Burglars masquerading as utility workers are turning up in Lafayette and Orinda, complete with tools, vests, and trucks. Only these guys haven’t come to read your meter.
Orinda Police Chief Mark Nagel said there have been two attempted burglaries in Orinda and one in Lafayette by crews using the ruse. In Moraga, a variation of the scam has been reported with a telephonic threat to “turn off your power” unless a specified amount is wired to a given address. In at least one case an elderly, partially sighted victim was approached by telephone in Moraga. She secured help from the police before the scam could be completed.
Nagel said the utility crew scam is not specific to Lamorinda, and that other areas are reporting similar tales. He warned residents to be on the lookout for crews of as many as five thieves, equipped with vests and clipboards and driving white trucks with tools attached. A common tactic is to approach a home, knock on the front door and ask the homeowner to accompany a “worker” to look at a fabricated water or gas line break at the side of the house while the remaining members of the crew ransack the home.
Nagel offered the following tips to help resident keep from being victimized:
- Always look out the window to see who is at your door.
- Make sure they see you.
- Never open your door to anyone you do not know.
- Do not let them push the door in.
- If you did not call or request for any service, do not open the door and do not go outside leaving the front door open. If they refuse to leave or continue making requests to enter your home, call 9-1-1 immediately.