'Roof bandits' victimize a second elderly resident

Monday, December 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The roof bandits that hit last week, pretending to check roofs for leaks, but instead, stealing from unsuspecting elderly people, have victimized another Tulsa resident.

We told you about 80 year old Pauline last week, the thieves took her Christmas grocery and gift money. Then we learned Pauline wasn’t their only victim. Francis is another grandmother, taken in by the same scheme. News on Six reporter Steve Berg says the second victim says the men who stole from her used the same trick that was used on Pauline.

89-year-old "Frances" says she saw the story we aired last week about the suspects in Pauline's case. She recognized "one" of them as the man who tricked "her." As bad as Pauline's situation was, Frances may even have it worse. “And I looked up at him and I said, "I thought you was my grandson." Frances says she never heard the man walk in her back door. "He said, 'don't you recognize me, I worked on your roof, and I thought 'well that's a pretty good guy, 'cause they had a good bunch of men. Working on this roof." It was the exact same "m-o" as in Pauline's case.

Unsuspecting Frances carried on a conversation with the first man, while she says he waved in his partner from a truck outside. "While he was talkin' to me, the other guy was goin’ through the drawers in there getting money out of one drawer." Frances says they took 50 one-dollar bills she was keeping to put in the collection plate at church. But even worse, they found a blank, signed check for her bank account. It was later cashed for $2,500. "Two-thousand, five-hundred, is what they got, and they about cleaned me out, and a little bit more and they would have."

Police say the signature on the check was Juan Rios. The name of one of the men whose been arrested for with using "Pauline's" stolen credit card. "Frances" says she can't understand why they would do such a thing. "I could choke 'em."

Police say the men are from Gainesville, Texas and were staying in a west Tulsa motel. Rios has "not" been charged with cashing the check; detectives still need to look at the bank security tapes. But officers feel very certain that the same team victimized "both" women. Because the check was signed, Frances is out that $2,500.