by: Ken Lemon Updated:
LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. - Lincoln County authorities are warning residents to be on alert after they arrested an alleged member of the so-called Irish travelers.
The group has been linked to scams and crimes for years in the area.
The 90-year-old accuser asked not to be identified. She is happy deputies arrested Barney Sherlock on charges of posing as a utility worker and stealing from her.
"I feel safer because I know he won't be back for a while,” she said.
Investigators said Sherlock knocked on her door last month and said he needed to check her power outlets.
They said instead he stole her jewelry box.
"It just tore me up to think anybody would come in on me like that,” she said.
Investigators said he is suspected of similar cases in Kings Mountain and Gaston County. They said he got away in all three cases. He was stopped Monday because a deputy spotted him reportedly driving around with an open container of alcohol.
The sheriff said Sherlock is part of a group of Irish travelers from South Carolina that floods the area every spring and summer.
He said they come up with a scheme to get into people's homes and steal from them.
They often target the elderly.
"Our senior citizens will not call and report something like this because they are ashamed of what has happened to them,” said Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter.
Carpenter said a senior citizen did report the crime and identified the suspect in a photo lineup.
Investigators said if strangers come to your door offering to do work, tell them to leave and call 911.