PLANT CITY, Fla. - Authorities are searching for a pair of home improvement scammers who tricked a couple into letting them inside their home to nearly empty their jewelry box.
Sammie Ruth Demontmollin, 82, and her husband, James Demontmollin, 88, were robbed of 26 rings on Thursday, September 15, when a man and a woman claiming they could fix their gutters talked their way inside the couple's home.
"He said, 'I've been by here several times,'" said James, "and he said, 'I see you need gutter work. I'm the one that put your gutters in.'"
While he did not recognize the man who pulled into his driveway unannounced, James hesitantly allowed him to examine his gutters, since they were in need of cleaning.
Eventually the man, and his female accomplice, told the Demontmollins they needed to go inside their home to search for water damage. Once inside, the woman distracted Sammie by telling her to fill a bucket full of hot water to clear the gutters. The male stepped away to ransacked the jewelry box in the bedroom.
"I was scammed, and I've never done anything like that," said Sammie. "I've never let anybody even in the house."
Instead of leaving the Demontmollin's with clean gutters, the two crooks got away with 26 rings in total. Each ring had sentimental value. They were anniversary gifts James gave to Sammie every year for more than two decades.
Sammie's wedding rings were stolen too.
"It wasn't real expensive ones, but the wedding ring and the wedding band, that kind of hurts, because that was the most important ones," said James.
The couple wants the rings returned and the pair of crooks caught. They say the crooks were driving a white mid-size SUV.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is conducting an ongoing investigation. They say the pair of thieves may be gypsies.