Written by Rich Forestano, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 10 July 2014 00:00
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is asking National Grid to notify customers in advance when utility workers will visit the home. The call comes in the wake of a string of deception burglaries, in which suspects posed as utility workers to enter homes. Three senior citizens, in Herricks, Westbury and Syosset were victims from June 19-20. These three communities, Schumer said, should be first in line for improved alert systems.
“The recent burglaries demonstrate that more must be done by National Grid to ensure homeowners know exactly who to expect at their door for an in-home technician visit, and at what time,” Schumer stated at a press conference in Herricks last week.
Utility companies are required to send a written letter to customers if meter readings have been unobtainable for more than six months. In a letter to National Grid President Ken Daly, Schumer cited nine Nassau County deception burglaries where two women dressed as utility workers stole jewelry and cash as a reason for action. Last year, police apprehended criminals posing as National Grid workers in Staten Island.
“While I appreciate that National Grid has recently taken some measures to mitigate the risk of these kinds of incidents, such as issuing workers newer, more identifiable uniforms and redesigning the exterior of workers’ trucks, deception burglaries continue to occur,” Schumer stated.
A National Grid spokesperson released a statement saying, “We are reviewing Sen. Schumer’s recommendation, as we are always looking for ways to improve our current processes for the safety and security of our customers.”
Schumer suggested outreach and educational opportunities for customers to help them identify real or fake utility employees.
“National Grid is not to blame for these deception burglaries, but it’s critical for the safety of the company’s customers that there is a clear, 24-hour advanced notice in writing or on the phone, for when National Grid plans to do an in-home meter reading or any other visit,” said Schumer. “I am also urging National Grid to pay special attention to the communities where this pattern has emerged and educate customers how to identify a real employee.”
A 79-year-old Herricks woman on Pine Street received a knock at her front door on June 20 at 12:40 p.m., when a man posing as a utility worker said there was a gas explosion in the area, police said. The woman was told to turn sink faucets on and off while the subject worked in a bathroom near the master bedroom.
Assorted gold jewelry was stolen from the residence, police stated.
“We see this happen from time to time,” Nassau Chief of Detectives Kevin Smith said recently. “It’s another ploy on tree trimming and electricity, where people deceive you to come into your house.”
Police described the suspect as a male with dark skin, 5-foot-7 inches tall, 30-35 years old. The man, police said, had a blue ink tattoo on his right forearm, spoke with a lisp or stutter and wore a construction hat and vest.
Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential. Callers are eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000.
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