By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item
On Feb. 18, Terry M. of Susquehanna Avenue, Milton, happened to look outside and noticed a man in a bright-green safety vest, holding a clipboard, walking down her street.
A few minutes later the man was on her front porch, knocking on her door.
“I only opened the door a few inches and asked him what he wanted,” she said. “He said, ’I’m here to get GPS readings of your water meter. How can I get into your garage?’
“You can’t,” she told him.
He seemed surprised, she said.
“He asked, ’Not even with this?’ and held up a shiny new lanyard and badge that had neither an employer’s information or a photo ID. I told him that if the water company is going to send somebody to my house, they need to call me first.
“Then I closed and locked the door.”
Terry described the man as Caucasian, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, with short, light-brown hair. He was wearing a tan Carhartt jacket with a fluorescent safety vest over it. “The lanyard he had on seemed suspiciously shiny and new, not scratched and worn like it had been worn much,” she said. “It lacked any visible identification or markings.”
He was carrying a clipboard and a small device, which he claimed, was the GPS device.
She contacted a neighbor to warn her about the man.
“She told me that he had been to her apartment door, too,” Terry said. However, “The man didn’t ring the doorbell, like people normally do. He opened her screen door and tried to open her door.”
Terry’s neighbor said the man told her the same story, about needing to come in to get GPS coordinates for her water meter. Both women filed complaints with Milton police.
Terry then called Pennsylvania American Water, asked if they had any workers in the area and told them what had happened. The representative filed a report.
The next morning, “I got a return call from John Pick, supervisor at the Milton office of Pennsylvania American Water. He said there have been no water company workers sent out to do this work and no subcontractors.”
He also told her that any legitimate water company employees would have a photo identification and a uniform and that she did the right thing by not letting him in.
“I don’t know what the intent of this man was, but I am glad that both me and my neighbor had the instinct not to let him in,” Terry said.
Officer Jason Engleman said Milton police received at least one other call about the suspicious man but when they responded, they didn’t find anyone matching the description. Police urge residents to use caution when strangers knock on the door and always ask for identification or call 911 and let police handle the situation.
Pennsylvania American Water responded quickly posting an alert on its web site:
“Pennsylvania American Water is alerting customers to be aware of imposters posing as company or municipal employees to gain entry to their homes. Earlier last week, an individual claiming to represent Pennsylvania American Water approached Milton customers under the guise of reading meters. The incident was reported to local police.
“The company reminds customers that all Pennsylvania American Water service personnel wear uniforms, drive company-branded vehicles and wear photo identification badges with the company’s logo. Customers are urged to take time to examine the photo identification tag whenever a Pennsylvania American Water employee arrives at their home or business. The company does not accept payment at a customer’s house or business.
“If a utility worker comes to your home and you are not expecting them, do not let them into your home without proper identification. Residents with any suspicions or questions about service personnel representing Pennsylvania American Water should call the customer service center at (800) 565-7292.”
Have you been scammed? If you think you have, contact the police and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection, at (800) 441-2555. Let us know so we can help others avoid finding themselves in a similar situation. Send your story to Joanne Arbogast at The Daily Item, 200 Market St., Sunbury, PA. 17801, or firstname.lastname@example.org.