Philadelphia, Jan. 24, 2014 – City Council’s Committee on Public Safety held a hearing on Friday to discuss and review the policies of utility companies that allow workers to gain access to residents’ homes. The hearing was authorized by Resolution No. 130288, introduced by Committee Chair Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District).
In response to a series of burglaries involving men identifying themselves as PECO workers that gained access to residents’ homes by claiming to look for faulty outlets, the Philadelphia Police Department issued a “Crime Alert” in 2012. The first incident occurred in April of 2012, where the perpetrators stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and cash from an elderly resident. Incidents like these continue to persist. A January 10 CBS Philadelphia report publicized a case of suspects impersonating utility workers accused of robbing a South Philadelphia home. Councilman Jones anticipates these hearings providing deeper insight into this criminal activity and useful information to all Philadelphia residents.
“It’s not enough to merely broadcast concerns and stories about utility worker impersonators. Perhaps policies need to change,” Jones said. “In any case, residents and seniors in particular should be aware of ways to validate the identity of workers who want access to their homes, whether by asking for a valid identification card or by contacting the utility company.”
As winter months often lead to an increase in utility worker visits, Councilman Jones recognized the timeliness and significance of this public safety issue. Representatives from Philadelphia Gas Works, the Philadelphia Water Department, and PECO testified before the Committee to discuss what can and should be done to verify the validity of utility workers servicing homes in the city.