It's kind of scary that when many of us see a person in an "official" looking vest, we assume that the person is actually "official." (Remember this guy?) But that trust is what a trio of scammers is relying on, as they present themselves as San Francisco Public Utility workers to innocent homeowners, then rob the place.
Back on December 18, the PUC says, three men talked their way into a Sunset District home by donning vests and claiming they were with SF's Water Department. Instead, two of the men distracted residents while a third stole cash and valuables.
While police seem confident that these miscreants will be caught — according to Bay City News, as the men robbed the home on 19th Avenue between Moraga and Noriega Streets, the video camera on a passing Muni bus caught the suspects and their vehicle on tape — officials are taking the opportunity to remind San Franciscans that just because someone says they're with a utility agency doesn't mean that they are.
This certainly isn't the first time something like this has happened. As you might recall, back in 2013, similar such grifters swiped $5,000 worth of loot from an elderly Oakland couple. And then there's the chilling take of Gary Scott Holland, who told a Russian Hill woman he was with PG&E, then killed her when she let him into her home.
At a press conference earlier this week, city officials told residents not to be afraid to ask to see ID, and to confirm that the worker arrived in an official agency vehicle.
"It's easy to fake because everybody out there has safety vests, you see guys riding around in their cars in safety vests,"Water Department Lead Plumber Mike Broussard told KTVU.
People who work with a city agency will have an official identification badge with the agency and city logo on it, and will arrive in either a department vehicle with green striping and the San Francisco seal or a plain white city vehicle with the seal and an ID number. Officials also say that it's incredibly rare that workers arrive at your home without an appointment, and that if you have any doubts, you can call their agency or 911.
"We're here to help. Look for ID's, look for vehicles," Steve Ritchie, SFPUC assistant general manager, said at the press event, SF Weekly reports.
"If you don't see those things and somebody claims to be part of the Water Department or the Public Utilities Commission, they're not."