Police warn about fake utility workers

BAYONNE – The city’s police chief is warning residents to be vigilant about letting people into their homes who claim to be utility workers.
“In the past week there have been three incidents in the city where elderly residents have been victimized in their homes by individuals claiming to represent the city’s water utility company, United Water,” said Bayonne Police Chief Drew Niekrasz in a Feb. 4 press release.
“All three instances occurred in the early afternoon, and resulted in the subsequent discoveries of money missing from the homes.”
In all of the thefts, the individuals committing the crimes identified themselves as employees of the utility. In two of the incidents, fabricated United Water identification cards were used.
All of the victims were told that a water main had broken in the area, and that the victims’ homes had to be checked for water quality and pressure.
“Once inside the home, the residents were distracted by the individuals, being asked to run water in different parts of the home,” Niekrasz said. “Throughout these incidents, the individuals utilized handheld radios, walkie-talkies, to communicate with other individuals, who most likely also entered the homes to commit the thefts while the residents were distracted.”
The thefts described by Niekrasz occur regularly throughout the region. Often, they are committed by criminals who are transient, staying on the move to avoid apprehension.
To thwart these type of crimes, residents should be on guard for individuals who approach their homes uninvited or unannounced, especially those who arrive on foot, without proper identification, or without a marked work vehicle.
Niekrasz suggested that if residents have any doubt about individuals at their doorstep, they should refuse them entry and immediately call the BPD for assistance at (201) 858-6900.

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