A pair of thieves posed as Florida utility workers to steal more than $25,000 in jewelry from an 81-year-old widow, authorities said.
Rachael Demitro, 49, was busted Thursday on charges including burglary, grand theft and violating her probation in the June 25 scam that was partially caught on the victim’s doorbell camera as she and an alleged accomplice pretended to be Florida Power & Light employees, Miramar police said Sunday.
“The investigation into the other suspect involved continues,” department officials said on Facebook.
Broward County deputies announced the arrest of Demitro and Bob Ely, 58, both of Oakland Park, for a similar July 15 burglary of cash and jewelry from an elderly couple in Margate — where Dimitro allegedly distracted the homeowner by claiming she had to survey the property for future yard work being done by a neighbor.
“The homeowner told detectives it was very hot outside, and he kept trying to go back inside his home,” Broward County authorities said in a statement Thursday announcing the pair’s arrest in the Margate theft. “However, the woman continued to distract him with conversation. When she left, he discovered money had been stolen from his safe, and a wooden jewelry box containing all his wife’s jewelry had been taken.”
Ely and Demitro were later stopped and detectives recovered all of the victim’s jewelry, some of which Demitro was wearing at the time, Broward deputies said.
Footage released by Miramar police in the June theft shows Demitro’s alleged partner luring widow Diane Reeves to the backyard of her home until Demitro returned. Minutes later, the elderly widow realized she had been robbed, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Some of the stolen items included a charm bracelet from 1961 given to Reeves from her mother and a pocket watch she bought for her late husband, the newspaper reported.
“It’s so many sentimental things over the years,” Reeves said Thursday hours before Demitro’s and Ely’s arrest in the Margate case. “My wedding ring, my engagement ring, pieces of jewelry my mother had given to me, a piece of jewelry I bought for my husband. All of these things are so irreplaceable.”
A Miramar police spokeswoman told The Post on Monday that Ely remains a suspect in the June 25 theft, but had not yet been formally charged.
“We do believe he is the person who knocked on Diane Reeves’ door,” Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues said.
Investigators still need to establish probable cause to charge Ely in the Miramar incident since his face was obscured by a mask during the exchange with Reeves, according to Rues, who warned the public about so-called distraction thieves.
“These types of individuals do tend to target the elderly,” Rues said. “Don’t let people into your home unless you requested the service and check IDs. It’s better to be safe than sorry and to take that extra precaution.”
Demitro and Ely remained held on $22,000 and $35,000 bond, respectively, at a Broward County jail Monday, online records show. It’s unclear if they’ve hired an attorney who could speak on their behalf.