Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 17 September 2010 00:00
At a recent village board of trustees meeting, the Department of Public Works advised local area residents to look out for thieves posing as village employees. Several weeks ago, a man posed as a village department employee and gained access to a Mineola resident’s home.
Water Department Supervisor Frederick Booher said the incident occurred a few weeks ago and that the man told the resident, a senior citizen, that he needed access to the home to check the water pressure. According to Booher, while the resident was told to watch the faucet to give the supposed village employee an “idea” of the water pressure, the man robbed the home.
After the “water watch” was completed, Booher said the man told the homeowner that he was going out to his truck and would be right back, “and he never returned,” he said. “The thief made off with an unknown amount of cash and jewelry.”
Booher stated further that for the most part, readings that the water department needs to check can be made from outside the home. He said that every village employee, whether from the building department or water department, carries proper identification that’s issued by the Village of Mineola.
“The village seal is the dead giveaway that it’s a real employee,” Booher said. “People need to make sure that they’re dealing with the right people or they could be rob-bed or worse.”
It’s also village policy that residents are notified beforehand that an employee would need access to the home.
“We’ll send a letter to that person or that business, make an appointment with them…before we go into the house,” Booher said. Booher stated that the address of the residence that was robbed was not listed on the water department meter checklist.
Mayor Jack Martins said that this has only happened “a couple of times” during his time as mayor of Mineola. Futhermore, Booher said he has never dealt with a case like this before during his tenure as water department head.
“In this case, the person identified themselves as an employee of our village,” Martins said. “If anyone comes to your home and says they’re a village employee, make sure they have proper identification and if you’re not sure, we’ll show you what our badges look like.”
Residents are advised to verify the individual’s identity by calling the company they claim to be from before allowing access to their home. “If you feel uncomfortable about the person that’s asking for access to your home, then don’t let them in,” Booher said. “Call us or if it’s unsafe, call the police so that they can take the proper steps to remedy the situation and prevent any possible harm to residents.”
“If you have any questions whatsoever, call the water department, call any of us to verify that the people coming to your home are our people and not a thief posing as our employee,” Mayor Martins stated. “It’s not fair to our residents to have to be afraid when they see a village employee coming to their home.”