LONGWOOD — A silver-tongued thief has found that to separate victims from their gold, it helps to be on a first-name basis.
“He’ll call out to the person, ‘Carmen!’” said Captain Philip Rivera of the 41st Precinct in Longwood, where the robber has targeted three older women in the past two weeks after somehow discovering their names.
“She’ll look and she’ll say, ‘Where do I know you from?’” Rivera continued.
“‘Oh you don’t remember me? I know you from Puerto Rico,’” Rivera said, imitating the thief.
Eventually the victim decides she must have met this strange man before and leans in as he offers a hug, said Rivera.
“‘Oh I see your chain is broken. Let me take your chain and I’ll repair it for you,’” said Rivera, playing the thief, who victims described as a light-skinned Hispanic male in his 30s.
He then runs off with the jewelry.
The Longwood robberies occurred outside of fast-food restaurants around Rogers Place, Rivera said. The same thief may have also struck in the 43rd Precinct, which includes Soundview and Parkchester.
“I don’t know if he’s doing his homework or stalking some of these people as they go about their daily business, but somehow or other he’s learning the name of his intended victims,” said Rivera, who called the method “very troubling.”
Police think the robber might be spying on victims at banks as they write or state their names.
Rivera advised using special caution when scrawling names in public.
“You really have to be careful with your personal information,” said Rivera. “Because when that information gets out there, it’s stuff that can put you off guard.”
Tips about the man can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).