The Vineland Municipal Utilities (VMU) are warning residents to be aware of individuals posing as water or electric utility workers after a Vineland resident was deceived and had their home burglarized recently.
The incident occurred on July 12 at the East Elmer Road location. According to the residents, two middle-aged males knocked on the door claiming they were from the water department and needed to check the water lines in the residence. They were described as wearing green uniform-type shirts, and one may have had some type of badge that was not checked by the homeowner. Once gaining entry, one individual went directly to the basement while the other individual stayed upstairs, made small talk, and entered other parts of the residence unaccompanied. The incident was subsequently reported to police after personal items and cash were found missing.
“Under normal circumstances, the VMU would never send utility workers or representatives to a customer’s home without scheduling an appointment ahead of time,” said VMU Director John Lillie. “Additionally, all VMU employees carry city issued ID badges that include photos, and field employees wear uniforms and drive Department vehicles which prominently display the familiar VMU logo. Thankfully, in this case there wasn’t more property taken and no one was injured.”
According to law enforcement officials, these type of distraction burglars normally work in pairs to trick their way into your home or lure you outside to steal your money or valuables. They may knock at your door posing as employees from the local gas, water, electric, telephone. or cable companies. They can be very convincing, charming and persuasive. They also can be young, old, male, or female.
In order to help guard against potential scams and impostors:
• Do not open your door to someone you do not recognize. Do not allow anyone to enter your home if you are not sure of the person’s identity, especially if you did not call for service.
• Always ask to see a photo identification and be sure to carefully inspect it. VMU employees will be happy to show you their identification if you ask.
• Call the VMU Customer Service Center at 856-794-4021 if you are unsure about a person’s identification or to verify if work is being done in your area.
• Do not allow anyone to enter your home claiming to collect a past-due bill, inspect plumbing fixtures, or to sell utility products such as meters.
“Always remember that VMU staff does not go door-to-door offering services such as residential equipment inspections or maintenance,” Lillie continued. “Our policy is to contact customers via the U.S. Postal Service if there is an issue that needs to be discussed. If a water utility customer fails to respond to the mailing, VMU staff will leave a door hanger asking them to contact customer service. Additionally, we do not contract work with third-party companies to perform tasks such as inspections of your home.”
City officials want to stress if you find yourself in a similar situation, feel threatened in any way, or see something suspicious, do not hesitate to notify VMU customer service and call the Vineland Police Department at 856-691-4111. When calling provide as much identifying information as possible regarding the individual or individuals in question such as their vehicle, clothing, physical description, and license tag number.