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Ruse Burglars Steal $180K In Cash, Jewelry, Electronics In Tinley Park

A man posing as a utility worker distracted a woman at this Tinley Park home while accomplices stole approximately $180,000 worth of cash, jewelry and electronics on May 8, 2012. (Credit: CBS)

A man posing as a utility worker distracted a woman at this Tinley Park home while accomplices stole approximately $180,000 worth of cash, jewelry and electronics on May 8, 2012. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – He claimed to be a gas company meter reader, but cops said he’s a hustler who distracted a Tinley Park homeowner while accomplices stole tens of thousands of dollars of cash, jewelry and electronics.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports it’s an age-old scam, and in this case, an especially painful one.

A southwest suburban family was left reeling, after thieves stole $180,000 in jewelry, cash, and electronics.

The target was a home in an upscale Tinley Park subdivision, in the 19400 block of Brookside Glen Court.

Tarunika Patel said her elderly mother-in-law was home alone on May 8, and opened the door for a man who said he was a utility worker. She let him inside and, late that night, discovered he had robbed them while he was inside the house.

“The business cash, some of it in here – that my husband was supposed to put in the bank, the next day, in the next morning – they took it,” Patel said.

More money and jewelry was missing from a bottom dresser drawer. The big loss was from a walk-in closet.

“A file cabinet, and they actually broke the lock open, and the safe was in here … behind the door,” Patel said.

The 80- to 100-pound safe contained a mother lode of gold jewelry. The bedroom door frame was damaged as the safe was carried out.

“Everything is gone,” Patel said. “Almost $120,000 worth of gold, and more than $15,000, $20,000 worth of cash, that business cash we had. And some electronics. They took, like, laptops and things like that.”

The family operates a convenience store, D & S Quick Foods, in Calumet City.

Patel acknowledged the burglars might be someone they know, because the crew knew precisely where to find what they were looking for.

“I’m praying to Krishna that they get caught, because I don’t want this to happen to nobody,” she said.

Police said the man who posed as a utility worker took Patel’s mother-in-law into the back yard, while accomplices carried out the burglary.

Patel said the safe they had at home might have given them a false sense of security. The family moved from Lansing to Tinley Park two years ago, and believed the safety of the neighborhood gave them added protection.

There have been no arrests as of Sunday.