A thief posing as a utility worker kept an 87-year-old Clifton woman occupied while an accomplice stole jewelry and several thousand dollars in cash from her bedroom, authorities said.
The thief knocked on the woman’s door around 4 p.m. Saturday, identified himself as a PSE&G employee and displayed a medal badge and a photo identification card, the victim told police.
He then “indicated that he was in the area checking the water supply due to recent flooding and asked permission to enter the residence, to which the victim consented,” Detective Lt. Robert Bracken said.
The woman eventually “became uneasy about the situation and conveyed her concern” to the con man, Bracken said.
He responded by walking her to the back door and pointing to what she said looked like a PSE&G van nearby, the lieutenant said.
A few minutes later, he left.
The victim contacted PSE&G, learned that there were no employees in the area and found that someone had rifled through her dresser drawers, taking several thousand in cash and an as-yet undetermined amount worth of jewelry, Bracken said.
That thief apparently went in through the front door while the other had the woman out back, he said.
The victim described the imposter as white and in his 40s.
“Unfortunately, this is all-too-common of an occurrence,” Bracken said. “These individuals prey on the elderly. They are fast talking and personable, which often times both confuses the victim and causes them to drop their guard.”
If anyone comes to your door unannounced claiming to be from a utiity company, “do not allow them inside,” the lieutenant urged.
That goes double if the person claims “the water needs to be checked,” he said.
Either contact the particular utility that the person claims to be from – or, even better, dial 911, Bracken said.
Police will then verify the person’s identity, he said.
“Emergencies aside, utility companies generally do not go to residences unannounced,” Bracken said.
If you have elderly relatives or friends, please make them aware of this story and guide them in how to respond in such circumstances.
For more information, contact your local police department.
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