On the Beat with Lt. Schoeppner

Lt-SchoeppnerIn this day and age when you hear of a scam you probably think of getting an email from a Nigerian prince or some sort of fraud over the internet. But before the age of high technology, scammers would resort to more mundane methods.

On December 6, a Tucker citizen was the victim of a theft where the suspects knocked on her door and identified themselves as Dekalb Watershed employees. They told the victim that they were checking water pressure because freezing pipes were interfering with local pressure. Once the suspects were inside her house, one of them distracted her with “checking the water pressure” while the other roamed around the house and stole several items. At the end of the day, the suspects had stolen money, a bank card and jewelry. In cases like this, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. So, this month we will talk about a few things to watch out for to keep this type of thing from happening to you.

The first step in prevention starts when you get the knock at your door. There is nothing that says you have to open it. You can usually get an idea what someone wants by just speaking to them through the door. Even better is if you have a door chain or some other device that allows you to open the door without it opening all of the way.

When strangers identify themselves as official workers, it is important to look at how they are dressed. In this particular case, county employees would wear some type of uniform. Even if the uniform isn’t immediately obvious, they will always have some sort of identification. You can also look out for the vehicle in which they arrived. Usually county or utility vehicles will have clear markings on them. If you do not see a vehicle this can be a pretty good clue to be wary.

The suspects may also not always have the same story. In this case, they said they were county employees. I have also seen this same type of scam where the suspects said they were from the power company, telephone company or cable company. It’s also common for suspects to be soliciting for roofing, landscaping or some other type of maintenance work. All door-to-door solicitors should have a permit issued by the county.

If you find yourself talking to someone who isn’t wearing a uniform, doesn’t have any identification/permit or doesn’t have any obvious transportation, don’t be afraid to call the police. If the person at your door really is some sort of county or utility worker, they will be willing to wait for the police to arrive and check them out. It is far better for the police to check out some suspicious person on the front end than have to come to your house later after you’ve been a victim.

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