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Bogus utility workers victimizing the elderly

Ben Godar

It’s an old scam, but it’s one police said is still being used to

victimize Burbank residents.

Two men claiming to be city utility workers robbed an 80-year-old


Burbank man last week. The men, whom police said showed only a

fraudulent business card, gained entry by telling the man they needed

to check a water pipe in his yard. While one of the men distracted

the victim, police said the other stole cash from the victim’s


wallet, which was on the patio.

Similar incidents have occurred during the past few months, and

police said it is a fairly common burglary technique, often used to

target the elderly. Unlike other types of break-ins, police said this

scheme is preventable if residents always ask to see proper

identification before allowing someone claiming to be a utility

worker into their homes.

“Don’t be afraid to turn someone away if they don’t have proper


identification,” police spokesman Sgt. Bruce Speirs said.

Burbank Water and Power employees always will be in uniform,

driving city vehicles and wearing city identification on the front of

their clothing, BWP Director Ron Davis said. It is also rare for

workers to need to come into a customer’s home; he said those

appointments are scheduled in advance.

If a resident is still uncertain whether someone at their door is

legitimate, Davis encouraged him or her to call the utility at


238-3700. If someone suspicious is trying to gain access to a

resident’s home, police said the resident should call 911.

“Call us. We would love to come out and talk to these people,”

Speirs said.