Cranston police warn residents of utility worker scam

By Kirsten Glavin

kglavin@abc6.com

@kirstenglavin

CRANSTON, RI –  Cranston police took to Facebook Friday, to warn residents of a string of scams in the city.

According to Lieutenant Justin Dutra, the latest victim was an elderly woman living on Fiat Ave.  She told police that a white man with a scarred face and missing front tooth approached her, saying he was from an electric company and would have to shut off her power.

"He stated that the electric company was going to have to turn the power off to the area for approximately five days. And they were going to provide the residents with generators for their backyards,” said Lieutenant Dutra.

The man managed to make his way inside her home, and was there for nearly an hour.  He reportedly tried to persuade her to follow him into the basement to look at her generator.

Police, however, said the women knew something was wrong.

"She spoke to him on the stairs while he was in the basement for approximately 20 minutes while he was down making noises, turning the dryer on and what not,” the Lieutenant said.

Cranston police told ABC6 News the tactic is common.  Often times, scammers will try distracting the homeowner while a second party sneaks in to steal valuables.

In this latest case, the fraud left the residence empty-handed.  Neighbors said they were stunned.

"That’s scary knowing that people come over and lure you into the basement, and rob you and steal stuff from you,” said Kyle Turcott, the victim’s neighbor on Fiat Ave.  He told ABC6 News the elderly women is reserved and keeps to herself. 

Police are now warning people that utility companies do not typically go door–to–door, and to not allow strangers inside their home.

"Don’t communicate with them in any way. Just call us and we’ll identify them,” said the Lieutenant.

Cranston Police stated that on November 5th, an elderly couple fell victim to the same scam.  The couple, residing in Aqueduct Road, was robbed of several thousand dollars worth of jewelry.