Jan 2016 • Employees at an east El Paso dental office are speaking out after they said a man posed as a patient wanting an appointment before stealing an employee’s cellphone.
Police said unfortunately it’s a common type of crime where thieves steal phones or other valuables left unattended inside stores or other businesses. They said officers take reports on similar incidents all over the city.
Employees at the Divine Dental Spa on north Zaragoza Road said they want their story to serve as a warning to other businesses owners.
Grace De La Cruz is the office manager and said two weeks ago was a normal day at the office until a man came in requesting an emergency appointment.
“This man comes into the office asking for an emergency appointment,” she said. “I went to see if we could squeeze him into the schedule and we were able to. But when I told him that we could see him, he said no I can’t stay.”
He agreed to an appointment the next day, then no showed. De La Cruz didn’t think anything of it until he came back again last week with the same request.
“A week later he comes back asking if I remembered him,” she said. “I did say I remembered him so he said the same thing, that he had to make an appointment for the next day. He had requested to use the restroom so one of the assistants had let him in. He went in, came out, I was working with a patient and when I came out, of course I notice that the phone is missing.”
De La Cruz said she had always kept her phone in between file folders behind the front desk. When it was missing, she checked the office surveillance video.
” When we looked at the surveillance, we clearly see him waiting for the last patient that was in the lobby to be called in and as soon as he was clear, he came around this way, reached over the counter, looked through my stuff, grabbed my phone and walked out. He had to actually like lean over and he was tall enough to be able to do that, but he leaned over, went through those files right there, and grabbed my phone and walked out.”
Police said this incident is a good reminder to always keep an eye on your belongings and the front of businesses as well.
De La Cruz said she believes the man had come in the week prior to scope out the place. She also said he seemed to know what he was doing.
“It’s almost like he knew exactly where the cameras were,” she said. “I know I hadn’t seen him here before, so when he came in that time, or both times, it just seemed like he knew exactly where the cameras are located.”
Although De La Cruz knows she will probably never see the phone again, she wants to get the message out to other businesses.
“Be careful, take care of your things and watch out for people like that because there are people that are out there looking for things that you work hard for, and they come and just take them from you,” she said.
If you recognize the person in the surveillance photos, employees at the dental office are asking people notify the office their office or police.