“This week our department received two calls from customers regarding people impersonating water department employees attempting to gain access to their homes,” Gustafson said.
Burbank police are investigating one of those incidents in which two men conned their way into a senior citizen's home.
According to Division Chief Mike Dudlo, the incident had all the earmarks of a ruse-entry burglary, although nothing was taken on this occasion.
Dudlo said the elderly Burbank woman received a call from a man purporting to be from the water department who told her workers needed to conduct a water purification test in her home. A short time later, the woman admitted two men into her home to conduct the test. The men left the home after the woman and a companion became suspicious and insisted they leave.
“They were lucky because these two subjects were criminals who were looking for the opportunity to distract the residents. One of the subjects would have remained in one room with the residents while the other would go through the bedrooms and steal any valuables they can, usually money and jewelry," Dudlo said. “The criminals usually target the elderly. Unfortunately, the elderly are very trusting and willing to cooperate.”
According to Gustafson, the homeowners were elderly Polish-American citizens in the two incidents that he was aware of.
Gustafson urges homeowners to ask workers for identification before letting them in. “My employees will always be in South Stickney Sanitary District vehicles. The name will clearly be marked on the side of the vehicle. They will also be in uniform with an ID stating their name and picture on it.”
Gustafson said that residents may contact the Sanitary District at 708-424-6030 to verify the credentials of any worker claiming to be from the water department.
Dudlo said caution is warranted anytime someone claiming to work for a utility company shows up unsolicited — if in doubt, lock your door, make note of vehicle information, call 911 and the police will send over an officer to investigate.
“If you know some elderly citizens or neighbors, please share this information with them,” Dudlo said. “In many instances, these types of public service announcements do not reach the target audience due to technology not being accessible to them.”