Warning about DEP imposters

January 9, 2009 3:37:10 PM PST
They are unarmed and have never used violence. "I hope they catch them because I would love to catch them," one victim told Eyewitness News.

She said the imposters talked a good game. She did not want to give her name for safety reasons.

"He was wearing a suit. He had a tag on that said he was from the water department. He was on the phone with the water department saying he had to check the water pressure," she explained.

Her elderly aunt was home alone when the men showed up last month.

The men asked to check the water pressure.

She didn't think anything of it because they had new sewers put in about a year ago.

She showed one man around while the second ransacked a bedroom.

The family didn't notice until several hours later that more than a thousand dollars in money and jewelry was stolen from the Graniteville home.

"It's a terrible feeling that somebody came in. They went through all our belongings and robbed us," she said.

They're not the only victims.

Police say the impostors struck in Staten Island at least five times between November 20 and December 29, largely targeting senior citizens.

"(Residents) just need to be careful on who they are letting in, especially those of you who have elderly relatives that live on their own. They have been targeted," Vincent Mattarella said.

The DEP has warnings on the internet about impersonators.

Officials say customers should always check for a badge, the patch on the shoulder, and an ID.

The victim who we interviewed warned others be careful because who knows what the imposters will do next.

"Do not let anyone in the house! No matter who they say they are. don't let them in," she said.

Even with the camera and truck, the victim had me show my Channel 7 ID.

They said customers can verify the identity of the agency's employees by calling 718-595-7000.

For more, visit the Department of Environmental Protection at NYC.gov/html/dep/.

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