Couple claiming to be health workers steal cash from elderly woman's home

Thursday, April 15, 2010 ~ Updated 11:44 AM

DEXTER, Mo. -- A large sum of cash was stolen from an elderly woman's home by two people reporting to be health care workers, the Dexter Daily Statesman reported.

Dexter Police report that on Monday evening, a local woman was approached by two individuals, a man and a woman, in an "older model vehicle" as she was doing yard work at her home. The female of the two reportedly exited the vehicle and engaged the woman in conversation, identifying herself as an employee of Home Health.

The woman told the resident that she and "her husband" had about 20 minutes to spare before their children had to be picked up, and asked if the resident could speak to them briefly about her insurance program.

The resident complied and allowed the female to enter her residence while her male counterpart remained in the vehicle. Police say that after several minutes of discussing insurance for senior citizens and Home Health care, the woman requested to see the resident's insurance card.

Although the resident found it to be a peculiar request, she complied and retrieved her purse from another location in the house, returned to the living room of her home and took out her insurance identification card.

The woman reportedly told the resident, upon examining the card, that she was unfamiliar with the insurance carrier and asked if it would be all right to let her husband come in and take a look at the card. Again, the unsuspecting victim complied.

The male entered the home and examined the card and suddenly, the resident explained later to police, the woman began a "coughing attack" and when it would not cease, she asked for a glass of water. Concerned, the resident once again complied, leaving the room to get the woman a drink.

Once her composure was regained from the coughing episode, the male is believed to have feigned a cell phone call. He reportedly walked outside the home to take the call. After a short time, police report that he re-entered the home and told "his wife" that it was time to go, and they left the residence.

It was later Monday evening before the victim realized her purse was missing. She reportedly reached for her purse to pay a repairman who had been in the house prior to the visitors and could not locate it. The purse contained over $1,500 in cash.

So unsuspecting was the resident that it was the following day before she realized that the Monday visitors had a prime opportunity to pick up the purse while she was summoned to get a glass of water for the coughing visitor.

Dexter Police Chief Paul Haubold, along with Home Health Director Joy Ward, emphasize to all residents of the area, and especially to senior citizens that they should always require identification by anyone approaching their residence.

"Any Home Health agency will contact a resident in advance of making a home visit," Ward warns, "and all of our employees display their identification tag at all times."

Police are investigating the incident and further details on the outcome of that investigation will be forthcoming.

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