March 11, 2010

Police warn about ruse targeting the elderly

Racine Police issued a warning today about thieves posing as utility workers seeking entrance into the homes of the elderly, and then burglarizing them.

Here's the statement from the Racine Police Department:
There have been attempts by strangers posing as Wisconsin Energies employees gaining unlawful access to the homes of elderly citizens in efforts to steal from them. In the latest incident on March 9, an individual claimed he was from WE Energies and that they were doing work in the neighborhood of 700B Belmont Ave. that required them to check her electricity. Despite the fact that he was not uniformed with WE Energy markings and had no company ID, he was allowed into the home.

He walked around the home turning switches on and off, telling her that her meter needed replacing. She gave him $50, and after walking around the home some more, he gave her back the cash, stating that he would be back the next morning to fix the meter.

In an earlier incident on Feb. 19, a similar ruse was used in the 1300B Monroe Ave. In both incidents, the offender was described as white males.

Reports from other agencies in southeastern Wisconsin indicate that several other communities in the area are suffering the same type of burglaries.

The Racine Police Department anticipates that there may have already been similar unreported incidents or will be other incidents in the near future based on the pattern of the offenders and the type of crime. Family members should consider talking to their elderly relatives and make them aware of this type of ruse.

The Racine Police Department wants to remind all residents that when a person comes to the door claiming that they work for a certain utility or business, they will usually have a uniform and photo identification card that you should ask to see, before allowing them into your home. At any time, if you believe that the person at your door or your neighbors is suspicious, feel free to call the Racine Police Department at 262-635-7700 and request assistance.

Racine Police investigators are interested in any additional information you may have about these incidents. You are urged to call the Racine Police Department at 262-635-7700 and ask for the Investigations Unit, or Crimestoppers at 262-636-9330, or by texting to CRIMES (274637) and referring to Tipsoft I.D. #TIP417 with your text message.


  1. Think about it. Warning stories like this always warn to check ID etc. The only appropriate action would be to note the person's name, have them stand on the steps while you go back inside, look up the sending agency/company phone number (because you would not trust any number the possible burglar would provide), make a phone call and find out if they are real. And how much time would you spend on hold or being shuffled from place to place? Do you know what a WE Energies, Police Department, FBI ID really looks like? If you do, could someone else? Could an ambitious burglar mock it up on a computer and wear a nice coverall uniform of the right color? Sure. Are there many ambitious burglars out there? Sadly, many criminals channel a lot of energy into getting something from someone else rather than working for it. Paranoia is a wonderful thing.

  2. I have never had a WE Energies employee show up at my door without first being contacted by the company. I would never let anyone in just because they wore the uniform and an ID or badge. I would get his name, look up the phone number in the book and call first. But then, whenever there's someone at my door who I don't recognize, I never answer the door without a sidearm stuffed in my jeans.

    As the saying goes: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.