By Oren Liebermann

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In a string of daytime robberies in Northeast Philadelphia, the thieves strike first with deception.

“He said he was from the water department,” said an elderly woman who did not want to be identified. She is the most recent of at least four victims, all located near Bustleton Avenue.

“He asked me a couple of questions, and I’m not sure what they were,” said the victim. “But in hindsight, they were to find out if I was alone in the house.”

The thieves then use distraction. One suspect took the victim down into the basement, claiming he had to check the water after a nearby water main break. Another suspect came into the house, went into the woman’s bedroom, and stole her jewels.

“I had no idea why I didn’t turn around after he came in and closed the front door,” she said.

The robbers have so far targeted the elderly. The victims are in their 70s and 80s.

This victim says the signs of foul play were obvious, but only in hindsight.

“Every time he said, ‘Put this in the washing machine. Put this on that.’ He didn’t touch anything.”

The victim hopes someone else picks up on the signs faster than she did and stops the robbers before they strike again.

The Philadelphia Water Department says they will generally notify homeowners before one of their employees visits a house to do work. In addition, Philadelphia Water Department employees always wear a uniform, carry an ID card, and drive a marked vehicle.

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