Thief targeting elderly in Madera County


Herman Cheatham and his wife moved to a quiet and quaint neighborhood to enjoy their retirement. About 130 people live in their community and most of them are over 55 years old. Up until now most neighbors felt safe, but not anymore.

"It upsets me a lot. It puts more of a scare into you that people would take advantage of elderly people like this," said Cheatham.

Deputies say on Wednesday evening a thief in his late teens or early twenties knocked on a door. Cheatham said "He told him that he was one of the other neighbor's nephews and the neighbor, he was gone." He added, "He asked if he could use his telephone and then the bathroom. He went into the bathroom and when he came out he had all the pills in his pockets."

Action News has learned the criminal took off with powerful prescription painkillers. Investigators believe thieves like him can research their victims ahead of time before targeting them. "The internet is a wealth of information to find out all sorts of things about people. Names, dates of birth and the age of course is critical," said spokesperson, Erica Stuart.

The advice is simple: be careful of letting strangers inside your home. Neighbors say from now on, if something seems suspicious, they won't hesitate to call 911.

"I'm mad, these people need to stop taking advantage of these older folks and some of us older people who aren't quite as old as they are. We need to watch out for them too," said Robert Bybee.

"It's something we don't need, really. We come down here to live a peaceful retired life and it's sad this is happening," said John McGregor.

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