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South Orange News

Created: March 26, 2010
Updated: September 15, 2010

Fake utility workers are on the prowl

By Chris Sykes, Staff Writer
The East Orange Water Commission is warning all city residents, especially senior citizens, about robbers and burglars posing as gas, water or other meter readers to gain entry into their homes, apartments or other domiciles to steal from them.
Last week, the commission issue an important notice to all their customers informing them that there was a possibility they could be in danger. The missive warned that there have been recent reports throughout Essex County of people posing as utility workers to gain access to homes and burglarizing these properties.
“Usually, there are two people involved — one keeps the home owner occupied while the other person robs the residence,” it read. “The team is out of the house in less than 5 minutes.”
Water Commission officials said they are urging all city residents to “please use extra caution,” when it comes to dealing with individuals posing as official meter readers or other city employees to do them harm. They also issued a list of “tells” that are likely to give any potential robbers away by ruining their disguises and deception.
“All East Orange Water Commission employees have identification, a uniform, and a vehicle imprinted with the company logo,” officials said. “Always ask to see ID before allowing access to your home. If you have any doubts, call our customer service department at 973-266-8869 to confirm.”
According to Harry Mansmann, the executive director of the Water Commission, even though there have not been any reported cases of robbery or breaking and entering in East Orange, his agency is trying to be proactive and prevent any of their customers from being victimized.
He said it is an unfortunate fact of law enforcement and utilities work that the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are times of year when criminals and others who prey on senior citizens and society’s most vulnerable are likely to be active. They know their potential victims have money around and in their possession and they are prone to letting their guards down because of the holiday spirit and the fact they are expecting family members or friends to come knocking.