|WARNING: Dangers At The Door
Phoney Repairmen Rapists
By LIZ GOFF
Having a repairman at your door can be
more costly than you think and, as part of a recently identified crime pattern in Queens,
it can be the first step in a rape.
According to police officials in Queens, a
pair of male predators with a penchant for violence has been doing just that, by passing
as Bell Atlantic technicians, and women throughout Queens are paying the price.
Police officials last week confirmed that a
series of sexual assaults two in Ozone Park, one in Jackson Heights and one in
Corona since December 1998 are the work of a pair of rapist/thieves.
Police sketch of the
THE SUSPECTS TARGET
NEIGHBORHOODS (To Date)
South of Astoria Boulevard
North of Roosevelt Avenue
West of the Grand Central Parkway
East of Junction Boulevard
South of Rockaway Boulevard
North of Conduit Avenue
West of the Van Wyck Expressway
East of Belmont Racetrack
According to Lt. Sean Cussen
of the Queens Special Victims Squad, the pair have struck at least four times, accosting
their victims at home by posing as telephone repair technicians.
Cussen told the Tribune that the pair gain access to
the victims home by ringing the doorbell, where one of the men identifies himself as a
"phone company repairman."
The man claims that the "lines are down," or that
Bell Atlantic is experiencing trouble on phone lines in the area and he requires access to
the victims apartment or home to check and correct the problem.
Ignoring repeated warnings by law
enforcement and utility company officials to the contrary, the victim opens the door
without checking ID or calling the company to verify his employment. The man enters,
brandishing a silver gun, police said.
A second man appears and the pair tie up
the victim, cover her head and face with a towel (or whatever is readily accessible in the
home). The pair then rape the victim and search the home for cash and valuables, then
flee, police said.
The pair first struck on
Dec. 18, 1998 at about 3:30 p.m., at the home of a 22-year-old woman in South Ozone Park,
The victim answered the door to find one of
the men outside, who claimed to be a repairman for the "phone company." Without
checking the mans ID, the victim let him into the home.
A second man suddenly appeared, police
said. The pair entered the residence and, brandishing a gun, they tied up the woman and
covered her head. She was then sexually assaulted and raped, police said. The pair then
ransacked the house searching for cash and valuables and fled.
The victim called 911 after she was able to
free herself, police said.
Acting alone one of the men struck again
four months later at about 11:15 a.m. on April 6, 1999.
This time, the door to a Jackson Heights
residence was opened by a 15-year-old girl who gave the man access to the residence after
they said he was a telephone company repairmen, police said.
The man repeated the sequence of the attack
he tied up the victim at gunpoint, covered her head and she was raped. He then
searched the residence for cash and valuables, and fled with $1,200 in cash, police said.
The girl freed herself and called police.
A third attack occurred at about noon on
May 26, 1999 in the South Ozone Park area, police said.
Again, one of the men posed as a telephone
repairman to gain access to the residence, police said. The second man followed and, at
gunpoint, the victim was bound and her head covered, then raped, police said.
Over and over, the pair found no stumbling
blocks to their attempts to gain entrance to the homes. The victims willingly, and
regrettably, opened their doors to the men.
According to Queens police,
the same pair of rapists waited eight months to strike again.
Their next, and latest attack, occurred at
about 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2000 in the Corona section of Queens, police said.
The victim, a 16-year-old girl, answered
the door to a man who identified himself as a telephone company repairman. Without
checking for ID, the girl let the man into the home. A second man followed and brandished
a silver handgun. The pair tied up the victim, covered her head and raped her. They
searched the residence and fled. The victim freed herself and called police.
At this time, investigators are checking
criminal profiles to attempt identification of the men, authorities said.
Police are checking with parole, probation
officers and prison records to determine if one or two men matching the description
of the rapists provided by victims were in jail for the eight-month period between
Police are also checking with the victims
neighbors to determine of the pair had been seen within the vicinity of any of the attacks
prior to the incident. In at least one attack, men fitting the suspects description
in the area of the attack before they struck authorities said.
Police are seeking help from
the public to identify and locate the two suspects.
One suspect is described as a black male, 6
feet, 2 to 6 feet, 4 inches tall, 180 pounds, with a medium complexion. He was wearing a
black knit hat, gray shirt and jeans at the time of the attacks. In his mid-20s, he has a
mustache and brown eyes, police said.
A second suspect is described as a black
male, 5 feet, 7 to 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 150-160 pounds, with a medium complexion and in
Anyone with information is asked to call
Lt. Sean Cussen, or Dets. Bennett, Nolan or Kenzik at the Queens Special Victims Squad at
520-9277, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
Cussen said there is a $1,000 cash reward
being offered by the Crimestoppers program to anyone who provides police with information
leading to the capture and conviction of the suspects.
Queens police and citywide
law enforcement officials have long-warned residents about the dangers of opening their
doors to strangers.
Despite the constant warnings, Queens
residents continue to open their doors to any "Tom, Dick or Harry" who seems
likeable enough and gives a good enough reason for getting in, police said.
Police warn: Every time you allow access to
your house or apartment to unknown person(s), you are setting-up yourself and anyone else
inside the residence as a potential victim of a crime from sexual assault, assault,
rape and robbery, to murder.
Criminals do not enter your home to
"visit," police said. They are potentially deadly intruders with a criminal
purpose and once inside, they will not leave until they complete their
One of the most common and pervasive
methods employed by criminals to get you to open your door is impersonation, authorities
Con artists, thieves and "serial
criminals" have portrayed themselves as police officers, parole and probation
officers, telephone, Con Ed, Brooklyn Union Gas technicians, UPS, Fed Ex and US Mail
carriers - all with a "good reason" and a "sincere attitude" and
"look" on their faces, police said.
"Its a sad fact of life,"
said Citizens Crime Committee head Tom Repetto, "The only person you can trust
in that type of situation is yourself, your instincts.
"Think of it as the same situation we
face while riding the subway. Statistics may show that subway crime is down, but we are
still skeptical of the guy sitting next to us.
"He may have a kind face and be
carrying a gun."
In a conversation with a
Bell Atlantic representative, the Tribune gathered the following tips and
guidelines for customers to follow in the event that anyone unexpectedly knocks at your
door, posing as a utility employee:
First and most important
Bell Atlantic technicians only go to your home by a pre-arranged appointment. Techs
do not knock on any door without prior notification, a company spokesperson said.
Always ask for Bell Atlantic ID.
Every employee and technician must carry a company-issued identification card, the
But dont stop there, Bell Atlantic
Once you have a blue-and-white Bell
Atlantic ID card in-hand, call the company to verify that there is a problem in the area
that requires emergency access to your home.
Bell Atlantic technicians do not wear
uniforms. They dress in street clothes, but carry appropriate identification.
Remember, Bell Atlantic utilizes a very
sophisticated tracking system to keep tabs on their outside employees. Through your one
simple phone call, a representative can trace problems in your area and tell you
who is on the job. If you discover that the person at your door is not a Bell Atlantic
employee, call 911 immediately and ask for police response.
Tell the intruder youre busy, on the
phone, whatever. But do your best to keep him outside the home until police arrive.
If an unknown person claims to be a
Con Ed or Brooklyn Union Gas technician or employee who must get into your apartment, call
the appropriate utility to check company identification and their reason for being there.
Con Ed employees wear company
uniforms and display ID on their shirt pocket, a utility spokesperson said.
Technicians will show up by appointment, or
in case of emergency, you will be notified they are coming by a company representative,
the spokesperson said. If a technician must enter your home to read your meter, the date
of the visit will appear on your last monthly bill.
Brooklyn Union employees,
technicians, etc., also wear uniforms and carry ID, said a utility spokesperson. But, it
doesnt hurt to check on the employee to verify that he is legitimate and that he was
actually sent by the utility.
Police said the same precautions can
and should be applied to any salesperson, mail or package carrier or repairman who shows
up at your door.
To verify the ID of a
utility employee who shows up at your door call:
Bell Atlantic Telephone/AT&T: 890-1550
Con Ed: 1-800: 752-6633
Brooklyn Union Gas: 718-643-4050
You may call these numbers to verify
identification and to determine if access to your residence is required by the utility.
Note: You may also call these numbers to check on utility trucks you see in your area
to verify their authenticity