Police Warn of Thieves Posing as Water Workers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Once again, police are warning the public to beware of thieves who are preying on the unsuspecting.

This time they victimized Charlie Bauer, 82, from Willowick, and stole what he could never replace.

"I was still crying, I have to watch because I could do it now," he said, recalling the moment he realized he'd been victimized.

Bauer told Fox 8's Lorrie Taylor two men, both clean cut and in their early 30's, approached him as he was pulling out of his garage around 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

"He said, 'well, we're from the water company.' He said, 'we want to check the leaks and things in the kitchen and bathroom,'" Bauer said.

He never thought to tell the men no.

Both men followed him into his apartment and got to work.

"I'll tell you the truth, honey, they were not dressed as anyone from the water company. I don't know what I was thinking," said Bauer.

One of the men steered Bauer to the kitchen where he distracted the 82-year-old with a fictitious leak under the sink.

The other said he was headed for the bathroom, but instead rifled Bauer's bedroom and that of his deceased sister.

"Every ring I had, my sister bought me. I had three diamond rings laying on my dresser," he explained.

A cherished bracelet, a watch and a necklace his sister always wore with a miniature police badge hanging from the chain were taken.

The charm featured the number 476, the same badge number her son wore until the day he retired from the Cleveland Police Department.

"When they took it off her before they closed the coffin lid, of course they gave it to me," he told Taylor, struggling with the grief he's yet to conquer.

Willowick police Lt. Brian Turner said it's possible the men have struck in other cities.

Brookpark and Parma Heights Police have reported similar crimes in their communities.

"We need to get the information out to the people, so they realize if somebody comes to the door don't let anybody in the door unless they have the proper credentials, ID, uniforms," said Lt. Turner.

It's a warning Bauer wants to make sure everyone in the community hears.

"I should have known better," he said as he wiped away a tear, "I didn't know at the time they were thieves."