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Waukesha police: Watch out for phony utility worker scam

Two men tried to get into three homes Sunday
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 19:34:38-05

Waukesha police are warning residents after a homeowner was scammed by phony utility workers.

Police said two men tried to get into three homes on Sunday, claiming they needed to inspect water pipes. They were successful in one attempt, but two others they were turned away.

Ken Schenian said he heard his doorbell ring late Sunday afternoon.

"He says, 'well our company is working on some pipe down the street that apparently had broke and the water may be contaminated so I'd like to check your water system,'" Schenian said.

Schenian thought it might be possible since water utility workers were fixing a pipe issue in the area a couple weeks ago.

"Then I said, 'show me your I.D.,'" Schenian said. "'Well I don't have one.'"

Schenian said the man told him his supervisor had his I.D. and was only a block away.

"I said, 'you aren't coming in, period,'" Schenian said. "I closed the door."

The suspect walked to a van and took off with another man.

"They wanted to get in to case the joint," Schenian said.

His skepticism was spot on. Police said others on Waukesha's northwest side weren't so lucky.

"Unfortunately a third, with the believable story that they had, they were allowed entry," said Waukesha Police Sgt. David Daily.

Daily told TODAY'S TMJ4 the two men used the same story to get into another home. Shortly after they left, the homeowners discovered two valuable rings were missing.

"Jewelry has sentimental value and that was the case here," Daily said.

Daily said Waukesha water utility workers rarely ever show up to homes unannounced, but if they do, follow Schenian's rule of thumb.

"If somebody comes to your door, immediately say I want identification to prove that you work for a certain company," Schenian said.

Daily said the two suspects haven't been caught. If a Waukesha water utility employee comes to your door, they will arrive in a marked vehicle, provide a picture I.D. and will be wearing a vest with their name and utility logo on the front.