Landlords and landladies across the city have been placed on alert following a series of recent robberies which may have been committed by the same person.
A young Waterford man in his early 20s is suspected of leaving one landlady in a suburban development minus €1,000 and a laptop computer, having rented the room on the night prior to the robbery. The next day, the seemingly charming new tenant was also nowhere to be seen or found.
“She’s absolutely devastated,” a friend of the landlady told this newspaper yesterday (Tuesday).
“She had been saving very hard over the past few months and to see it, along with the laptops and a few other items taken from her home like this, has been very hard to take.”
Waterford Gardaí are investigating the incident, which occurred last week, and dusted the property for prints in the hope of tracking down the perpetrator.
“We know the Guards are doing their best, but for them, this is like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” the friend added.
It’s also been suggested that the young man may be using a false identity, making it all the more difficult for the authorities to track him down.
“Four of the Guards who were up to the house told us that when they went to rent a flat themselves, the landlord had asked them to produce their passports – and these are Gardaí we’re talking about. It’s very sad that it’s coming to this when it comes to letting.”
Another landlady in the Earls Court area suffered a similar fate in recent weeks, when a new tenant moved in and disappeared a day later following a robbery. This has led to the suggestion that the same man was responsible for both crimes.
“He rang me to enquire about a room after seeing my ad in the paper a few weeks ago,” the friend continued, who preferred to remain unnamed.
“He sounded quite young, 23 or 24, and came across as the loveliest fella you could imagine. He just seemed to be so nice. He told me he was being transferred from Dungarvan to Waterford for work, but by the time he rang me, I’d already rented out the room I’d advertised.
“The following Monday he rang me again and told me he was desperate for a room and was there anything I could do to help him out.
“So I put him in touch with my friend, who had a room available and he moved in on the Wednesday night and he was gone the following day. And it looks like he took quite a bit of money and a few other things with him.”
After conducting her own detective work, our source learned of the Earls Court incident. “The description of the man who’d done the same thing there was pretty much identical to that of the young man who moved into my friend’s house.”
In the light of all this, what advice would she have for those letting rooms in the city?
“Just be on your guard,” she said. “If you need to be sure you’re dealing with an upfront, honest person, which the vast majority of tenants are of course, then look for some ID or some previous references from other places they must have stayed at. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”