Burglars pose as Water Authority workers

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Detectives in Amherst are working to discover who is behind burglaries where the suspects pose as Erie County Water Authority workers.

Police say four of these burglaries occurred on the same day, with one bring committed in Amherst, another in Clarence, and two more Cheektowaga. The suspects showed what appeared to be official badges and had “Water Authority” printed on their coats.

Authorities say on Thursday, an elderly woman in Williamsville allowed the men into her home. While one man was distracting her, the others stole jewelry from her bedroom.

“An elderly town resident answered her door. [There] was a gentleman there who identified himself as a person from the Water Authority. The individual had a badge-type ID; he also had a coat on that indicated he was with the Water Authority. He claimed he was there to check her faucets, that type of thing. She let him in the house; two other men followed; they also had some type of ID that they flashed, similar coats,” said Amherst Police Det. Lt. Rick Walter.

The three men, described as white with a medium build between the ages of 40 and 50, were driving a blue-, black-, dark purple- or maroon-colored GMC SUV. In some of the crimes, the men wore dark jackets, and in other cases wore khaki coats. But in every care, one suspect would distract the victim while the others stole jewelry and cash.

In one case, investigators say the burglars stole $4,000. All of the victims are elderly people in their 80s.

“It’s fairly common these days to try to prey on the elderly,” said Cheektowaga Police Det. Lt. Tom Wentland. “There’s a lot of phone scams that go on. We’ve seen quite a bit of it as of late.”

Det. Lt. Walter added, “One of the sad things we see as police and society in general, the elderly are preyed on. And I think, in the situation we’re dealing with, in this type of crime, it’s because that generation is so trusting, and everything was so legit back in their day.”

Police warn residents to be on the lookout. They say in each of the cases, the men gave specific reasons for entering the victims’ homes and none of the reasons were to read the water meter.

“The physical descriptors were the same. They’re certainly related,” Det. Lt. Wetland said.

Amherst, Cheektowaga and State Police in Clarence are all investigating these burglaries. Anyone with information on the Amherst crime should call detectives at 689-1342, in Cheektowaga call 686-3505, and in Clarence call 759-6831.

If you have any question if the person out front of your home works for the Water Authority, you should call 911 or call their customer service line: 849-8484.

The Water Authority says all of their employees have three visible forms of ID: a badge, a blue uniform with the Water Authority’s emblem, and a blue and white vehicle with the Water Authority’s decal on both sides.

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