Senior citizen says couple stole jewelry from her

Suspects pray with woman before stealing her jewelry

Published On: Jun 07 2013 08:48:16 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 08 2013 07:06:00 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

An elderly woman was convinced she was hiring professional tree trimmers, who police say, were really professional thieves.

Authorities said the crooks prayed with the woman, before stealing her jewelry, and right now police would like to know if other victims are out there who have not come forward.

Rosalee Hickox said she was too trusting earlier this week when a man and woman with their kids knocked on her door.

"She said, 'Hey, I'm Sarah,'" said Hickox. "I said, 'I'm Mrs. Hickox' -- had a baby about two months old with her."

Hickox said they were offering to trim her trees and fix her room, saying it needed fixing, and they would do the job for less than what JEA would charge for the repairs that would be needed if she didn't hire them.

"I wasn't really thinking, Scott," Hickox said to Channel 4's Scott Johnson. "The boy really didn't quote a price and I didn't ask for a price. He was really going to be doing a favor I thought more or less."

Police said the couple, Norma and Willie Jeffery, acted overtly religious. At one point, one of them pointed to a picture of praying hands and even asked to pray with Hickox.

While all these distractions from the kids to the praying were going on, police say they swiped thousands of dollars in jewelry from a jewelry box.

Hickox feels she was targeted.

"Because I'm a senior citizen. Well, I'm a little more concerned now and alert about the situation," Hickox said. "I won't be as friendly to people I don't know. I know you because you come into my living room everyday."

Channel 4 Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson said this is a common scam. In fact, JSO called it "an emerging crime pattern" in Jacksonville.

"There are people in the world who believe there's no evil in the world or no crooks," said Jefferson.

Jefferson said these scammers prey on specific types of trusting people.

"They prey on people who they feel would be vulnerable. They prey on their religious convictions. They prey on city institutions, JEA, and it is a scam," said Jefferson.