Commissioner Credited With Saving Elderly Neighbor From Utility Scam: Authorities

Authorities are still looking for the two men accused of targeting the woman.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An Oakland Park commissioner's quick thinking may have saved his elderly neighbor from getting scammed by two men pretending to be utility workers, authorities say. Christina Hernandez has the story. (Published Friday, Mar 14, 2014)

    An Oakland Park commissioner's quick thinking may have saved his elderly neighbor from getting scammed by two men pretending to be utility workers, authorities say.

    Commissioner Tim Lonergan was at his home when he noticed two men wearing reflective vests and hard hats pull up to his 87-year-old neighbor Shirley's home in a black Mercedes, according to the Broward County Sheriff's office.

    After she let one man in, the other waited outside and later followed through the open door. Suspecting something was wrong, Lonergan took pictures of the Mercedes and its license tag with his cell phone then went to check on Shirley, deputies said.

     

    “Another person jumped out and ran in through the open door. At that point I realized the chances are that the first person was distracting my neighbor while the other one was possibly going somewhere he shouldn’t be," Lonergan said.

     

    When he arrived at the house, he discovered the second man walking out of the bedroom as the first spoke to the woman in another area of the home. They claimed they were checking for leaks, but they were unable to produce identification and Lonergan didn't recognize them as city workers.

    Faced with questions, the men left the property in the Mercedes.

     

    “I took a couple of steps just to look and see and ask Shirley if there was an ID next t the sink and there wasn't. by the time I turned around, they were in the car and squealing away," Lonergan recalled. 

     

    But the photos Lonergan took have allowed authorities to identify the owner of the vehicle as 49-year-old Tom Bimbo of Pompano Beach.

    "The best defense against reprehensible and despicable scam artists who target the elderly is alert relatives, friends and neighbors like Commissioner Lonergan," Sheriff Scott Israel said in a release.

    For her part, Shirley said she started to get suspcious when the first man started asking her questions about two people being in the home and wondering whether she had company planned.  She said she plans to be more cautious about allowing strangers in the house in the future.

     

    “I do know to be a lot more careful… even if you insult somebody, just be careful," she said. 

     

    Detectives are still looking for Bimbo and his alleged accomplice. Anyone with information can share anonymous tips by calling Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.