Con artists in utility company clothing are once again preying on area residents.
Cops from the 60th Precinct in Coney Island warned members of the 60th Precinct Community Council recently that a growing spree of “deception burglaries” has taken place in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay and other surrounding communities over the last month.
Police would not say exactly how many of these burglaries — in which someone dressed as a utility worker or city employee cons their way into your home and then steals your valuables — have taken place in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South this year, but explained that everyone should be wary of strangers at the door, no matter what kind of credentials they have hanging from their necks and shirt pockets.
Police said that just last week an 89-year-old man from 62nd Street in Dyker Heights fell victim to a pair of deception burglars pretending to be New York City Department of Environmental Protection inspectors.
The senior told police that the suspects, a six-foot-tall blonde male in his fifties and an unidentified accomplice, knocked on his door at 12:40 p.m. Sunday, claiming to be from the “water department.”
The tall stranger said that he was assigned to go house to house, to “check for leaks.”
The senior believed the lie and let the men in.
He soon realized the mistake he made when he saw one of the thieves grab his wallet off the table and thumb through it.
When the senior threatened to call the police, the thieves left, fleeing the area in a red sedan.
Police said that this particular senior was lucky since the thieves left empty-handed.
In 2007, six Bensonhurst seniors were robbed by swindlers who pretended to be water department inspectors or plumbers dispatched to see if the pipes in the home were leaking.
Once they were welcomed inside, one of the thieves kept the senior occupied while the other would rummage through the home looking for any cash and jewelry they could stuff into their pockets, police said.
Cops ultimately apprehended five people for that particular series of crimes. It was unclear if these individuals could be responsible for the recent spree.
Police said that the thieves routinely switch up their scam, claiming to be Con Edison workers, National Grid workers, or cable company installers.
In some cases, the thieves wear similar looking uniforms and ID that could be easily mistaken for the real city employee or utility regalia. They have also targeted homes close to other homes being serviced by Con Edison, National Grid or Verizon, claiming that the utility truck seen down the block was theirs.
Residents wishing to be better armed against these thieves are asked to always demand to see ID from any utility worker or city agency employee that comes to your home and to never let that person wander around the home by themselves.
It is also good practice, especially for seniors, to have a friend or family member at home with them during the day, when these robberies tend to take place.
If one is not expecting a service call, they should take a moment to call that department to verify that a repairman had been dispatched. The utility worker will wait until the call is verified — the thief will not, police said.
If residents are expecting a service call, they should try to find out exactly when the person is coming so they do not accidentally let one of these con artists inside, officials said.
Police said that if one feels that they have been visited by a con artist, they should call 911 immediately, officials said.
Anyone wishing to learn more about how to best protect themselves should contact their local precincts for more information.
©2009 Community News Group
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