Lafayette police and investigators from the California State Contractors License Board conducted a sting operation aimed at curbing complaints resulting from contact with unlicensed area contractors – citing 19 alleged offenders over a two day period.
Over the course of the sting, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at a local home established for the operation, individuals who had been previously identified by neighbors were targeted. Police said contractors who advertised their services in local media were also asked to provide quotes for various work at the residence.
During the operation, 19 offenders were cited for a variety of offenses – including contracting without a license, illegal advertising, overcharging for a down payment, failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance, and using the contractor license number of another contractor.
Several of the individuals who showed up at the home to furnish quotes for work were found to be repeat offenders, had criminal histories, and in one case showed up while under the influence of an unspecified drug.
Contractors were asked to provide bids to perform a variety of improvements – landscaping, masonry, drywall, cabinetry, fencing, concrete, tree removal and plumbing. The contractors then provided an estimate for the construction project and were asked to present their contractor’s license – which they could not provide.
With the increased desire to install drought tolerant plants and yards, Lafayette police said they expect an increase in problems with unscrupulous landscapers and contractors over the next few months. Lafayette investigators are now planning a future operation with members of the licensing board.
The Board recommends homeowners do the following to keep from being victimized:
- Hire a licensed contractor.
- Check their references and past work.
- Get a written contract.
- Only give $1,000 or 10 percent down, whichever is less.
- And don’t let payments get ahead of work provided.