Police say two people charged with a hate crime on Monday afternoon targeted elderly people, pretending to collect donations for a church before committing burglary.
According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers from the 2nd Precinct responded to a 911 call about the suspects posing as church representatives to gain access to an elderly woman’s apartment in Paumanack Village in Greenlawn, then stealing property from her.
Police officers Frank Muoio and Todd Regan found suspects Heather Marchese, 23, and Sean DiStefano, a 24-year-old Shoreham resident, within the apartment complex and arrested them. Both were charged with second-degree burglary as a hate crime. Marchese, who is homeless, was also charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument.
Marchese and DiStefano, who both had other unrelated charges already pending against them, including criminal possession and traffic law violations, were listed on the New York State court system’s online database as representing themselves and could not be reached for comment.
Police said an investigation — by 2nd Squad detectives and the Hate Crimes Unit — has indicated that there may be other victims, and that the suspects targeted the elderly.
Anyone who may have been a target in the scheme is asked to call the Hate Crimes Unit at 631-852-6323.