Long Beach police are alerting residents about a scam in which people pose as utility workers to break into homes.
In the scam, the bogus workers target homes when no one is expected to be home and work as a team to distract the occupant and burglarize the home.
“We've had three suspects who posed as workers where they were able to go to a home and told the individuals at that residence that they needed to do some work,” said Sgt. Aaron Eaton, a spokesman with the Long Beach Police Department. “At this point we just know they were in some type of uniform a polo shirt type uniform.”
Police suggest the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Utility employees are identifiable by their uniform and are required, upon request, to show a city-issued identification card;
- Customer contact is made either in person by a uniformed employee or through a form that is left in a prominent location on the property - The form provides a contact number to inquire about the work scheduled or to reschedule the work at a more convenient time;
- 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.
In the most recent case, police only have a vague description of men in their 30s.
The men got away with jewelry and electronics, smaller items someone may not notice are missing right away.
Police believe there could be more victims out there. In the meantime, they are working with the city of Long Beach, telling residents to be aware.
“Usually when we show up -- 9 times out of 10 we've been already called to come,” said Matthew Henry, a Long Beach gas field service worker. “So if someone shows up without knowing they were coming that should be the first thing to alert you.”
If residents have any doubt, they are encouraged to call the appropriate department to verify the legitimacy of the employee: Long Beach Gas and Oil – (562) 570-2140; Long Beach Water Department – (562) 570-2300.