A New Year’s Resolution: Santino, Hudes, King Sweeney, D’Esposito & Water Company Advise Neighbors to Beware of Phony Utility Workers, Offer Safety Tips to Protect Homes from Thieves

Water Dept Scam
Town officials offer safety tips to residents to prevent distraction burglaries.

In response to three reported Hempstead Town thefts involving criminals posing as water department workers, town officials and a local water company are alerting neighbors to be on the lookout for “fake” water department employees, while offering tips to avoid becoming a victim of the would-be thieves. Supervisor Anthony J. Santino, Councilman Gary Hudes, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and Brian Bruce of New York American Water Company held a press briefing in one of the communities that has been targeted by the criminals. The Town’s water department and New York American Water Company serve the communities in which the burglaries have occurred.

According to news reports and the Nassau County Police Department, two incidents took place in December – one in Bellmore and the other in Levittown. Additionally, a social media post indicated that another incident occurred in Seaford on December 28th. In all three of the episodes, thieves posed as water department workers. The Levittown and Bellmore burglaries witnessed victims being robbed of cash, checks and other possessions.

“It’s alarming to learn that some of our residents are being victimized by thieves who are posing as trusted water department workers,” said Santino.  “One of my New Year’s resolutions is to stop these thieves by alerting neighbors to this issue and by providing them with valuable tips so they can avoid becoming victims of distraction burglars.”

Santino, Hudes, King Sweeney and D’Esposito urge residents who encounter such people at their doorstep to contact their water service providers to verify the authenticity of these utility workers. Keep in mind that all Town of Hempstead Water Department employees display their official town identification upon arrival and wear clothing with the water department name and logo. What’s more, water service personnel who require access to homes drive town or water department vehicles that are equipped with clear town/water company identification. Further, all instances under which town water department employees require access to a home are preceded by a telephone call from the water department to arrange an appointment.

“If people claim to work for a utility company and ask for access to your home, especially without any prior appointment or notification, it’s always a safe bet to contact the utility company directly to verify if they are authentic,” Santino said. “If you are still uncertain, and feel threatened, contact the police immediately.”

“If you are unsure about someone seeking to gain entrance into your home, call right away to verify," Hudes said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“We urge you to play it safe and look for identification, water provider uniforms and vehicles that feature water provider markings,” stated King Sweeney.

“If you see something suspicious, close your door and call the police,” D’Esposito added.

"The safety of our customers and employees is our number one priority," said New York American Water President Brian Bruce. "All customers should know that New York American Water service personnel wear uniforms, drive company-branded vehicles and wear photo identification badges with the company’s logo. We urge all of our customers to take the time and examine the photo identification tag whenever a New York American Water employee arrives at their home or business and to report any suspicious claims to the proper authority."

Santino, Hudes, King Sweeney and D’Esposito offered other tips to keep in mind for neighbors who are uncertain about someone at the door seeking to gain access into their homes:

-       Do not open the door for someone you do not recognize.

-       Look for identification through the window, such as a company ID badge that displays the name, photo and ID number of that person. Most employees will also be wearing a uniform and driving a company vehicle with its logo clearly displayed.

-       Most utilities will never ask for a payment at time of service.

-       Know that even if you are past due on your bills, your utility company will send you notifications in writing before services are shut down.

-       If a real meter reader or service technician must enter your home, your utility will provide you with advanced notice of their arrival.

-       If you are still unsure, call your water utility provider.

-       If you experience suspicious activity or feel unsafe, notify the police department.

 

The following are important phone numbers for residents served by the Town of Hempstead and New York American Water:

-       Town of Hempstead Water Department (Bowling Green Estates, East Meadow, Levittown, Uniondale, Roosevelt Field, Lido-Point Lookout Districts): 

o   (516) 794-8300 

o   Weekends and after hours: (516) 794-8181

-       New York American Water (877) 426-6999

“Remember these helpful safety tips before allowing someone into your home,” Santino said. “I urge residents to beware of these phony utility workers that have been lurking in our communities and to report any suspicious behavior. We wish residents a happy, healthy and safe New Year.”