Saturday, January 19, 2008 6:38:19 PM

72-year-old man attacked after police impersonator knocks on the door

written by: Jeffrey Wolf , Web Producer
updated by: Carrie McClure , Anchor/Reporter created: 1/18/2008 426 PM
Last updated: 1/18/2008 10:19:56 PM

72-year-old man attacked after police impersonator knocks on the door. 9NEWS at 10 p.m. 01/18/08

DENVER – Police say an elderly man was assaulted and robbed after he opened his door to a man pretending to be a police officer early Friday morning.

Denver Police say it happened just before 1 a.m. in the Southmoor neighborhood near East Napa Place and South Rosemary Way.

Police say a 72-year-old man opened his door after a man claiming to be a police officer said he had a search warrant for the home.

Once inside, the police impersonator let two other men into the home. The three men tied up the homeowner, ransacked the home and stole money.

"They posed as the individuals we should always trust. They posed as police officers to gain entry to his home and assault him and to take advantage of him so that's greatly concerning for us," said Denver Police spokesperson Sonny Jackson. "We do believe they were targeting him. Why? We don't know."

The incident has set the entire neighborhood on edge.

"It's scary because I would have opened the door," said Danielle Schrieber, one of the victim's neighbors. "A lot of people would have done just what my neighbor did and open the door to them."

All three of the suspects were white men. One was wearing a black or blue vest with the word "police" on it. The other two were wearing ski masks.

If you have any information about the men, you are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867). You can remain anonymous and your information could make you eligible for a cash reward.

Police released tips on how you can make sure you are talking to a legitimate police officer:

- Ask them if you can call their dispatch center or headquarters to confirm before you let them in.
- If you are uncertain if the person is a police officer, respectfully ask them to call for a uniformed officer.
- Ask to see not just a badge, but a photo ID card and a commission card (NEVER take a business card as ID). Real officers will not mind this.
- Ask them what they need to see you about.
- Be polite but firm; if you suspect something is not right, call 911 immediately.

"Obviously we're saying do not resist the police, do not be rude, do not be nasty, but take the necessary precautions to make sure that assure your safety and your family's," said Jackson.