• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Police warn of DWP impersonation scam

September 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police are warning Southern California residents to be on the lookout for fake water and power workers. Police say suspects have been impersonating crews and burglarizing homes.Authorities say the suspects are bold and brazen. The suspects have been entering homes and stealing money, jewelry, and more.

Authorities say to protect yourself, simply do not open the door until you call the Department of Water and Power. They say you should verify the person on your doorstep is actually an employee of the Department of Water and Power and that the person should be there on a service call.

The latest crime happened over the weekend on the 1100 block of Schofield Drive in Glendale.

Police say suspects impersonating Glendale Water and Power employees told a 56-year-old man that water in his neighborhood was contaminated. They told him a needed to come into his home to turn on his faucets and drain the system. He invited them in. Shortly after, police say, the man got suspicious.

"The victim in this case decided now is now is the time to ask for identification, ask for a supervisor's phone number, which, at that time, they could not provide either," said Sergeant Thomas Lorenz, Glendale Police Department.

Authorities say when the resident attempted to then call police, the suspects fled with a small amount of money taken from his home.

"What this is is it's a distraction. As they're taking the resident through the home to turn on the faucet, a co-conspirator then enters the home and starts looking for small valuables," said Sgt. Lorenz.

"Yes, of course it's scary," said Napalie, a concerned resident.

"We don't trust too much. I mean, if something happened to me, I'd call the office first. And, I don't open my door," said Elizabeth Vargas, a concerned resident.

Police say what happened Saturday was an isolated incident in Glendale. However, in L.A., over the last week and a half, LAPD says bandits posing as DWP workers have talked their way into at least five homes and burglarized them. They say the crimes have mainly happened on the west side of L.A. And the victims have been senior citizens.

"One suspect would go into the residence and the other would go behind ... go and ransack the bedrooms, removing property. We're talking about high-class, the jewelry, we're talking about U.S. currency," said Detective Leanora Linsey, Los Angeles Police Department.

Detectives arrested four suspects for impersonating DWP workers and burglarizing an elderly couple in Van Nuys last month. Those suspects posted bail. Investigators are looking into whether they are linked to the latest crimes.

"It is a possibility that it could be the same suspects from the Valley now committing that crime in west side of L.A." said Detective Linsey.

DWP officials say it is rare for them to send out one of their employees to your home on a service call unannounced. If there is a service call they will give you at least 72 hours' notice. Officials say when the worker arrives, they do not want you to open the door until you call them to verify that person should be there and is actually an employee.

You can reach the DWP at (800) DIAL-DWP or (800) 342-5397.

Police say no one has been hurt during the incidents. However, they also say they would like to catch the bandits before that happens.

 

- Get more local news headlines from Los Angeles
- Have a news tip? Send your tips, video, or pictures


Load Comments