Bogus water inspectors trick elderly woman, South Brunswick cops say
SOUTH BRUNSWICK — Police are investigating whether two men who claimed to be from the water company burglarized an elderly resident.
The incident happened on Saturday afternoon in the Charleston Place development when an 84-year-old resident said the two people claimed they were there to conduct a water test. The pair entered the apartment and spent 10 to 15 minutes in the home before leaving, police said. The development's maintenance department confirmed to police that there was no work scheduled by the water company at the time of the incident.
Police are still working to determine whether any items were taken from the home. The first suspect is described as a white man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a dark blue shirt and jeans. The second suspect is described as being a black man, around the same age and wearing similar clothing. They were both wearing lanyards with credentials, according to police.
"Distraction burglars normally work in pairs. Their aim is to distract you and trick their way into your home or lure you out of your home to steal your money or valuables," a statement from the South Brunswick Police Department said. "They may knock at your door posing as employees from your gas, water, electric, phone or TV companies. They may be very convincing, charming and persuasive."
The statement from the department said people who do these types of crimes often target elderly or vulnerable people "who tend to be more trusting."
Police said these are some ways to avoid becoming a victim:
- Encourage older people to get into the habit of always locking their doors and by using a door chain or spy-hole;
- Telephone a neighbor, or a nearby friend, and ask them to come along to help check out the caller before you open the door to them;
- Insist on checking the identity of the caller. If they are genuine, they will not mind waiting or returning later. Do not use any telephone numbers provided by the caller as the number may be one of their associates;
- Don’t keep large quantities of cash at home; put it in the bank where it is safe;
- Remember, it is not rude to refuse letting a stranger into your home.
- Call police and request an officer to come and verify the identity of the individuals.
- Try to note the description of the individuals and any vehicle but only if you feel safe doing so.
- If you are suspicious and want an immediate response, call 911.