By Shawn Chitnis
DENVER (CBS4)– An 84-year-old grandmother says two men pretending to be employees of Denver Water stole jewelry from inside her home after they said they needed to check her water pipes.
“I usually don’t invite anyone in,” said Maria Martinez. “But he said he was from the water department and he had a greenish uniform on.”
Police are working on a description of the two men who took advantage of Martinez on Thursday evening and got away with three rings, including her wedding ring. Her husband passed away years ago.
Martinez told CBS4’s Shawn Chitnis that she usually carries a bat with her when answering the door to protect herself.
“Why do you think I have it handy?” said Martinez.
She decided not to grab it that evening around 5 p.m., convinced the man at the door was a legitimate employee of Denver Water because of a green uniform that appeared to read “Water Department.” That man came in and told her to turn on the water in her kitchen and bathroom sinks. Then the man asked her to go outside and show him the backyard.
She started to worry about the running water inside, “I better go back and shut it off and then he grabbed my arm and said, ‘No’ it will be all right.”
The man tried to keep her outside because another man Martinez had not seen yet slipped into her bedroom and started looking for valuables to steal. She eventually got to the back door and went inside.
“As soon as I got into the kitchen,” Martinez said, “The other one got out of my bedroom and got out of the house.”
She immediately noticed that her purse wasn’t where she left it in her bedroom and started to check for any missing items.
“I opened the little glass dish and I saw the rings were gone,” Martinez said.
The wedding rings were personal mementos of her late husband she had hoped to keep with her forever.
“They meant a lot to me, I never thought I would lose them,” said Martinez. “I thank the Lord that nothing happened to me.”
Her grandchildren say she’s a stubborn woman who likes to take care of herself and live independently. They are worried about her and someone else these two men might target.
“I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m sad, it’s just very disheartening,” her granddaughter Rachel Dominguez said. “I’m grateful they didn’t hurt her. But who’s to say they won’t hurt the next one.”
Denver Water said if there is a reason for an employee to come out to a home, most of the time the utility will schedule that visit and communicate about it before arriving.
When an employee does show up at a home, they advise residents to look for the Denver Water logo on their shirts and the marked vehicle parked outside the house. Concerned residents can ask for the employee badge for verification. Those who are still not sure can call customer care at (303) 893-2444. The utility says if anything seems out of the ordinary, always call 911.
That step is one Martinez’s family likely wishes she would have taken, but the grandmother would have preferred to settle the matter on her own and with her bat.
“I would let him have it,” she said.