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Man forces way into senior citizen's home

COVINGTON - Newton County authorities are urging residents to be cautious of people they let into their homes after an unknown man allegedly forced his way into the residence of a senior citizen earlier this week.

The 87-year-old woman, who resides on Bryant Road in Oxford, told sheriff's deputies she heard a truck pull into her driveway around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a Newton County Sheriff's Office incident report completed by Deputy Debbie Torbett. Thinking the person was her grandson bringing her medicine, the victim opened the door to find an unknown white man, who told her there had been an accident down the road and that he needed to check her water for a gas leak.

The unidentified man, who was not wearing a uniform, then reportedly forced his way inside the home and asked the victim where the sink was. The victim told Torbett that she became suspicious of the man because he kept insisting that she needed to stand at the sink to smell the water and see if it began to turn black.

The victim said she lost sight of the man for a few moments and that by the time she caught up with him, he was leaving the residence in a gray, newer model truck, according to the incident report.

After checking her purse, as well as some other belongings, the victim said that nothing appeared to be missing.

The suspect was described by the victim as being neatly dressed and well groomed. He was also wearing dark pants and what appeared to be a radio or a walkie talkie on his belt.

According to Lt. Mark Mitchell, spokesman for the NCSO, later that same day, authorities received a call about a similar incident at a residence on Ga. Highway 36.

As with the first incident, the victim was elderly and indications are that something may have been taken from the home, but exactly what was taken is still undetermined.

Mitchell said investigators are still working to determine if the suspect is specifically targeting the elderly.

"Right now, we have some leads and we've got investigators doing some follow-ups to determine who (the suspect) is," he said. "It's something we're diligently looking into."

Mitchell advised residents to take the proper precautions when answering the door, adding that if you don't know who a person is, to not let them in and immediately call 911 for help.

"You never know who you're dealing with. It might be a legit person from a utility department, but you never know," Mitchell said.

Authorities asked that anyone who has experienced a similar encounter or who may know the identity or whereabouts of the suspect to call the NCSO at 678-625-1403.

Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through the Web at www.newtonsheriffga.org by clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.