Alert Victim Spots Suspect in 50 Thefts From Elderly

Times Staff Writer

A man believed to have stolen money and jewelry from at least 50 elderly residents of Glendale and Northeast Los Angeles over the last year by posing as a Social Security representative was arraigned Friday on burglary charges in Glendale Municipal Court.

Robert Adams, 37, of Hollywood, is suspected of gaining entry to the homes of the elderly by telling residents he had reviewed their Social Security benefits and believed that they were entitled to more money, police said. Once inside, Adams allegedly would ask residents whether they kept cash or valuables in the house and then steal what he could grab while residents went to get him a glass of water or a cup of coffee, police said.

"Sometimes he posed as a doctor who needed to examine them before they could get additional benefits," Glendale police Detective Bill Fishbeck. "While they were taking a shower, he would take the money."

Spotted by Victim

Adams, also known as Steven Lee, was arrested Dec. 31 in Glendale after a woman who had been victimized earlier that day spotted the suspect in the neighborhood while police were at her house writing a crime report. The woman told police that she recognized Adams' stocky build and crooked, badly stained teeth, police said.

Glendale Municipal Judge J. D. Smith ordered Adams held on $100,000 bail on six burglary charges and set a preliminary hearing for Jan. 14. Additional burglary charges are likely to be filed against Adams, police said.

Los Angeles and Glendale police detectives are contacting victims of similar burglaries that began in late 1984. Adams is believed to have been involved in at least 25 of the crimes in Glendale and more than 20 in the Northeast Los Angeles communities of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, police said.

Uncertain of Scope

Police said they are uncertain of the total number of victims because many of the crimes may have not been reported.

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