Couple targeted by utility scam; Police take 2 hours to show up - WNEM TV 5

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Couple targeted by utility scam; Police don't arrive for 2 hours

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An elderly couple in Hartford's South End went through some terrifying moments after they were robbed at their home by two men that said they were form the Metropolitan District Commission.

Just before 5 p.m. Monday, the 78-year-old woman, who asked not to be identified, said she heard someone at her door.

"I was upstairs," she said. "I heard the noise. I thought it was my daughter who came and I went down and saw there was a man."

She said the man looked as if he was in his 60s, and has salt and pepper hair. The woman said he was with three other young men and they said they were with the MDC.

"He said 'we are water, we work for the water company. We have trouble on the street,'" she said. "And I said, 'well you have trouble on the street, why do you come to my house?' and he said 'we need to check your water to see if you have damage.'"

She and her 86-year-old husband let them in.

They said the men were very careful not to touch anything in the house.

"'Open the bathroom, open this.' I said 'why do I have to open? You open it.' So he said 'No. You have to do it.'"

The woman said one person distracted her while another stayed with her husband.

"I said to the guy, 'why are you taking my husband downstairs?'" she said. "I said 'he doesn't have to go with you. You open the water yourself.'"

That's when they started to get suspicious.

"My husband said 'get out of here. I'm going to call the police,' and he started to get mad. All of a sudden I saw two men. They came from upstairs. I said 'what are you doing there? When did you go upstairs?'"

The couple demanded to see their badges, but were told they were in the car. When they pressed further, the couple said the men chatted on their walkie-talkies and then ran away in a black pickup truck.

The men had taken off with all the contents that were in a safe in their bedroom, which included about $10,000.

At 5:08 p.m. the first 911 call was made to dispatch. Channel 3 Eyewitness News learned the woman was so shaken up she didn't mention there was a burglary, just suspicious people.

"I want to know if true, do they really have a problem on Hubbard Road," the woman said during the emergency call to police, which was obtained by Eyewitness News.

A short while the victim's daughter made another call to police.

Family members said this time they mentioned their belongings were stolen, but still no police came.

A third call was placed and after there was still no response the family called Channel 3.

"Hey we called three times," said the daughter during the emergency call to police, which was obtained by Eyewitness News.

When our crew got to the house it was just after 7 p.m. Our cameras were rolling as the first cruiser drove in more than two hours after the first call.

Officials said they will be looking into why the dispatch center took so long to let police know.

Sources told Eyewitness News that one of the dispatchers was new and may have made "a rookie mistake."

"Our main focus is on the criminal investigation," Hartford police said in a statement to Eyewitness News. "However, we are aware this call may have been mishandled. We communicated this concern to the public safety dispatch center and they are investigating and reviewing what happened last night. The Hartford Police Department is confident it will be addressed and corrected. And we do not anticipate this sort of thing happening again."

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