VINELAND, N.J. – Vineland Municipal Utilities (VMU) officials are warning residents of individuals posing as water or electric utility workers after a Vineland resident was deceived and had their home burglarized last week.
The burglary happened on Friday, July 12th on East Elmer Road. According to the resident, two middle-age men knocked on the door claiming to be from the water department and said the needed to check the water lines in the home.
They were described as wearing green uniform type shirts, and one may have had some type of badge that was not checked by the homeowner.
Once the individuals made it into the home, one went directly to the basement while the other individual stayed upstairs, made small talk, and entered other parts of the residence unaccompanied.
The incident was reported to the police after personal items and cash were found missing.
“Under normal circumstances, the VMU would never send utility workers or representatives to a customer’s home without scheduling an appointment ahead of time,” VMU Director John Lillie said in a press release. “Additionally, all VMU employees carry city issued ID badges that include photos, and field employees wear uniforms and drive Department vehicles which prominently display the familiar VMU logo. Thankfully, in this case there wasn’t more property taken and no one was injured.”
The VMU has some tips to help guard yourself against potential scams and impostors:
- Do not open your door to someone you do not recognize. Do not allow anyone to enter your home if you are not sure of the person’s identity, especially if you did not call for service.
- Always ask to see a photo identification and be sure to carefully inspect it. VMU employees will be happy to show you their identification if you ask.
- Call the VMU Customer Service Center at 856.794.4021 if you are unsure about a person’s identification or to verify if work is being done in your area.
- Do not allow anyone to enter your home claiming to collect a past-due bill, inspect plumbing fixtures, or to sell utility products such as meters.
“Always remember that VMU staff does not go door-to-door offering services such as residential equipment inspections or maintenance,” Lillie continued. “Our policy is to contact customers via the U.S. Postal Service if there is an issue that needs to be discussed. If a water utility customer fails to respond to the mailing, VMU staff will leave a door hanger asking them to contact customer service. Additionally, we do not contract work with third-party companies to perform tasks such as inspections of your home.”
If you find yourself in a similar situation, feel threatened in any way, or see something suspicious, do not hesitate to notify VMU customer service and call the Vineland Police Department at 856-691-4111. When calling provide as much identifying information as possible regarding the individual or individuals in question such as their vehicle, clothing, physical description, and license tag number.