Fake utility workers targeting elderly residents

October 29, 2010 4:14:50 PM PDT
We have a warning now about an imposter who used a fake uniform to gain the trust of his victim before burglarizing her home. Police say the man claims to be from the power company. He's struck at least once in the neighborhood south of Broadway between 39th and 45th streets in Galveston.

This is a pretty big deal on Galveston Island because the elderly make up about 30 percent of the population. Police worry it could happen again if folks aren't careful. They say this is just another example of a crook scheming to take advantage of the elderly.

At 79, there's not much that bothers Claude Sellers.

"You're the first one to tell us and we're proud that you did," said Claude Sellers.

What really gets underneath his skin are stories about crooks who target the elderly.

"I think it's one of the worst things that a person can do is to always pick on the elderly," said Sellers.

He hopes Galveston police can stop a man dressed in plain clothes who they say robbed an 88-year-old woman in her home by posing as a utility worker. Investigators say he knocked on her door and claimed to be from the power company after he cut off the electricity.

"He then asked her if she had a flashlight because he needed to turn her hot water heater off," said Det. D. Wilson of the Galveston Police Department.

"He followed her into the house, saw her purse, snatched the purse and then ran out," Det. Wilson said.

Galveston police believe it has the potential to happen again and have since alerted the city's water department, CenterPoint Energy and other utility companies.

"For them to pose as utility workers is especially troublesome for city officials. We definitely want to make sure that are customers know how to identify or properly identify legitimate city workers," said Alicia Cahill with the City of Galveston.

To avoid becoming a victim, you should always ask for proper credentials and a phone number and then contact the company for verification.

"People try everything at all levels of life, and if that's something they find they can get by with, they'll continue doing it until they are stopped," said Sellers.

The 88-year-old woman was not hurt.


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