An 87-year-old retired dentist in Ahwatukee and his wife learned the hard way that you can’t always open your door to strangers – even ones with a kid in tow.
The incident at a home in the area of the Ahwatukee Recreation Center on the afternoon of Jan. 13 left the man and his wife shaken for days. AFN is withholding the victims’ names and specific street to protect the elderly couple.
It happened when the man was in his workshop at home and his wife was tinkering around in a room that was out of sight from the front door.
She heard the doorbell ring and, thinking it was a neighbor, told the visitor to just come on in.
“She thought it was a neighbor and he walked right into the house and down the hall,” the victim recalled. “Then I heard her say, ‘You get out of here. I don’t know.’”
When her husband went in to see what was going on, he saw a man in his 30s.
“He told me he was doing some roof work down the street and offered to check ours,” the victim recalled. “I thought it was a little odd because it was Sunday and the Ahwatukee Board of Management handles our roof repairs.”
When he asked for a business card, the visitor went to a white truck parked across the street that didn’t seem to have any markings he would expect the “roofer” to have.
“I was being polite, but I was trying to get rid of him,” the victim said.
“He went to his pickup and came back up to the door with a woman he said was his wife and their 8-year-old daughter,” he said. “They said they didn’t have a card but would write down the information.” He had learned she was 8 because he had a brief conversation with the little girl and she told him how old she was.
The victim said as he went to the kitchen to fetch a pad and pen, the couple and the girl followed him into the house.
Then the woman told him she’d give him their contact information if he would just write it down. He turned his back to the couple and the girl and when he turned back around, the man had already gone down the hall and was walking out of a bedroom.
The couple and the girl then hastily left.
The victims called police and “they arrived right away.”
But it wasn’t until after the cops had left that the victim realized a diamond necklace that the dentist had given his wife many years ago was missing. Although he didn’t have his appraisal on hand, he estimated the necklace was worth around $2,000.
They called the police again.
“Fortunately, there were a pair of diamond earrings that went with the necklace but he didn’t take those,” the victim said. Nor were they able to take his wife’s wedding and engagement rings, which she sometimes leaves on top of the bedroom dresser.
“She was wearing them, but the necklace was right on the dresser,” the victim said last Thursday, Jan. 17. “It was that quick. I’ve been trying to figure out if anything else was stolen but so far, it doesn’t look like it.”
Although the victim said the officers told him they had heard of similar instances occurring that involved a strange couple, a spokesman for Phoenix Police said he was unable to provide any information without a police report number.
Karen Young, ABM assistant general manager, said she and another elderly resident who lives in the retirement section of the HOA recalled that a couple of months ago, a couple showed up at her door claiming to be Realtors.
And even though that woman never opened her locked security screen door, Young said, “she was really shaken up by that.”
So was the dentist and his wife.
“It really shook up the whole family,” he said, describing both the man and the woman as being around 5’6”, slender with dark hair and a medium dark complexion. He didn’t get the license plate number and said all he can say about the truck is that it was a late model white pickup.
But what he does know is that the incident has left him and his wife feeling a little less secure.
“Everybody around here knows each other and a lot of times they’ll just walk over into a house,” he said. “We call them walk-in neighbors.”
But that won’t happen again, he added, saying from now on, he’ll keep his security door locked.
Young said the retirement community at ABM is a little more vulnerable because it’s designated for people 55 and over.
But unlike similar mobile home communities that are age-restrictive, there is no gate, narrow streets with small lots and regular patrols that give “that added bit of security,” Young said.