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Police say men are targeting seniors

February 22, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Two men who attempted to cheat a Mercersburg, Pa., woman have struck in Washington County, Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Michael Potter said Monday.

"They are roaming the area preying on senior citizens," said Potter.

Police said two white men in their 20s, who were operating a red dump truck, dropped poor-quality gravel onto the woman's driveway before she could refuse it on Feb. 2.

They then demanded an exorbitant price for the rocks, he said.

The woman refused to pay and the men left, but a 90-year-old Maryland man wasn't as fortunate.

On Feb. 16 at 1 p.m., men matching the same description did the same thing at the man's house.

Potter said the men demanded $2,300 for crushed stone worth about $300. They told the man they would not take a check.

The man had some cash inside his home and paid the man about $1,100 he said.

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The victim, who lives in the 2100 block of San Mar Road, was home alone and felt intimidated by the men, Potter said.

He said the victim waited to go to police about the crime because he was embarrassed.

"He really believed them when they said they were giving him a deal" on the gravel, said Potter.

"They (the rocks) will wash away with the first rain," he said.

The two man gave the victim a receipt and phone number, he said.

If apprehended, the men could face theft and other charges, Potter said.

Although only two incidents have been identified recently, the trooper believes there may be more victims who have not reported the crimes.

Valid contractors are required to be licensed, said Potter, who recommends people not have work done without a signed contract

"If there's doubt call and verify. Legitimate businesses won't mind being checked out," he said.

Schemes against senior citizens are typical, particularly in the spring, he said.

"Senior citizens are easy prey - they can be so trusting," he said.

A similar swindle involves crooks dumping an oily substance they say is blacktop on driveways, he said.

Potter said it is important that people notify the authorities if this happens to them so that police can warn others.

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