Holiday crime threat: Don’t let strangers into your house, precinct council warns

Ilene Sacco, left, president of the 68th Precinct Community Council, is warning Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights residents of a scam hitting the area involving crooks posing as utility workers. She is pictured with civic leaders Charles Otey and Arlene Keating at a function in Bay Ridge. Photo courtesy of Charles Otey

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The 68th Precinct Community Council has issued a warning to residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights to be on their guard against scam artists posing as city water inspectors.

It happened once and it could happen again, Community Council President Ilene Sacco said.

Here’s how the scam works: the crooks, who targeted a Bay Ridge senior citizen last week, have been known to approach older adults outside their homes and informing them that there is a water main leak in the vicinity, according to Sacco, who is working closely with Capt. Richard DiBlasio, the precinct commander, to get the word out to the public before anyone else falls for the scam.

The scam artists usually request entry into the senior citizen’s home to inspect their water pipes to determine if that is the source of the leak.

But while inside the house, the crooks are really inspecting the victim’s cash and jewelry, according to Saco. While one crook distracts the senior citizen, another scam artists roams through the house, stealing money, jewelry, and other valuables.

“Last week an elderly woman in our community was outside of her house sweeping, when she was approached by a man who appeared to be a utility worker. He was wearing a hard hat, carrying a walkie-talkie and he had what looked to be some sort of ID around  his neck. He told her that there was a water main break and that he would have to check out the pipes in her basement,” Sacco said.

“The woman allowed the man into her house. As they were going down to the basement the man gave an apparent coded message to his accomplices via the walkie-talkie. Once they were down there, he kept her busy by running water, asking questions, etc.,” Sacco said.

While the victim was occupied with the first suspect in the basement, other suspects entered the house and stole money and jewelry.

“It is important that we all learn from this lesson,” Sacco said.

Her advice: residents should not let anyone in their homes unless an appointment was set up ahead of time.

“Do not be fooled by ID's, uniforms, clipboards or any other disguise or accessories someone might be carrying. Many con artists are smart and will dress appropriately and use appropriate language depending on their disguise,” Sacco warned.

If someone comes to the door identifying themselves as a utility worker, residents should ask for their name and then call the company to verify if a worker was dispatched to that location. But if the resident feels threatened by the worker, the resident should call 911, Sacco said.

December 3, 2012 - 1:16pm



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