Winston-Salem police warning of thieves targeting the elderly while posing as city employees

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem police are issuing a warning about criminals posing as city employees to gain access to the homes of elderly citizens.

Police say on Monday, there were three incidents where the suspects targeted three elderly people at their homes on Randall Street, South Avalon Road and Greenwich Drive, all within a couple of hours.

“It upsets me because, you know, why do people do that? I mean, it’s not yours. Work for it,” said a woman who wanted to remain unidentified, whose grandmother was a victim.

For our purposes, we will call the victim’s granddaughter “Michelle.”

“She was taking this person for their word and they ripped her off,” Michelle said.

In her grandmother’s case, and the other cases police are detailing, one suspect lures the victim outside while another enters the home. Police say the suspect doing the luring tells the victim the City of Winston-Salem is planning to do utility work on their property.

Meanwhile, it is believed the suspects communicate via walkie-talkie, in Spanish.

“She never saw the other person,” Michelle said, of her grandmother.

Police say once the unseen suspect enters the home, they steal valuables such as cash and jewelry. In the case of Michelle’s grandmother, items which were stolen included cash and gifts bought by her late husband during his time in Vietnam with the Air Force.

“They are not replaceable,” Michelle said. “It’s just not right. I mean, what happened? I mean, it’s not that hard to make money, your own money, without stealing somebody else’s stuff.”

Police say the vehicle used by the suspects appears to be a four-door passenger vehicle.

The City of Winston-Salem wants people to know that all of their employees are issued an ID, including their picture, name and title. If people are suspicious, they can also ask to see a supervisor, who will come speak to them in person.