The Long Beach Police Department is alerting residents to reports of brazen persons who are going door to door in neighborhoods citywide impersonating city utility workers in an attempt to gain entry into houses and commit burglary.
“In this scam, the bogus workers are apparently targeting homes to burglarize when no one is expected to be home, or working as a team to distract the occupant and burglarize the home,” LBPD said in a press release encouraging residents to be aware of what is being called a “utility worker scam.”
Though it is unclear how many incidents have occured in this manner, Officer Juan Reyes of the North Patrol Division said that it has been common enough to raise alarm. He noted several reports where suspects wearing vests similar to the ones used by City utility workers knocked on doors and if no one was home, they then looked through windows and went into the backyard in an attempt to break in.
If a resident answered the door, Reyes says that the suspects has prepared a ruse saying they were doing inspections and needed to come into the house. In one instance, the suspect was audacious enough to ask to use the restoom. In another, one suspect took the resident into the backyard while an accomplice burglarized the home.
Police say there are several ways for residents to confirm whether or not they are interacting with a real City employee including: asking the person in question to show a City-issued identification card; verifying that the uniform is a City-specific one; or contacting Long Beach Gas and Oil or Long Beach Water Department to verify the legitimacy of the employee or work requested to be performed.
“This has been a cause for concern, especially in the North Division where property crime has gone up in the last few years,” said Officer Reyes at a North Long Beach Community Action Group meeting on Sunday. “The good thing is that we have been getting more calls for suspicious activity lately, which is great because that means we have prevented more break-ins.”
Residents are advised to keep gates to backyards locked and secure at all times and to immediately report suspicious activity, including loiterers, to the Long Beach Police Department by calling 911 with a suspect description. The non-emergency number is (562) 435-6711.
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