Man claiming to be with water company talks his way inside 2 homes

(WTHR photo Rich Nye)
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GREENFIELD, Ind. (WTHR) — Residents at the Villas at Springhurst in Greenfield play dominoes on Monday and Friday afternoons at the Villas clubhouse. Two of their neighbors got played by a scam artist Tuesday afternoon.

"I don't like it, that's for sure,” said Nadine Schew, who has lived at the Villas almost two years. "I plan on being a lot more aware of who knocks on my door."

A man claiming to be with the Greenfield Water Utility talked his way inside two homes. He said he needed to check for low water pressure. Both women victims live alone in the senior independent living community. Both failed to ask the man for identification. After he left, they discovered jewelry missing from their homes.

Greenfield police say the man did not wear a uniform or have credentials. He is described as about 30 years old with dark, short hair in a tan polo shirt and jeans. Police say he stole rings worth over $10,000. Police hope to get photos of the jewelry and perhaps the stolen items will show up a local pawn shop.

"This is absolutely a scam artist from who knows where that is preying on an elderly community in this case," said Greenfield Police Department Detective Lieutenant Randy Ratliff.

The Greenfield Water Utility says all employees drive a marked city vehicle, wear a shirt with a utility logo and carry a city badge with their name and photo. They will also provide a card with contact information.

"My personnel as a usual practice will not enter a home unless it's absolutely necessary," said Greenfield Water Utility Manager Charles Gill. "Even then, it's very limited. A supervisor would typically be in attendance. But we can very easily, in most situations, check water pressure outside a residence, where we would not necessarily need to enter a home."

Police have no security video of the suspect or a vehicle description.

"It doesn't matter where they say they're from or what they say they're reasoning is for wanting to get into your villa, don't trust them if you don't know them," said Thomas Hunter, who has lived at the Villas at Springhurst over two years. "I keep my doors locked all the time whether I’m there or gone. I keep my blinds closed at all times. I have a dog and a 12-gauge shotgun."

Police have no other reports in Greenfield of someone trying to pull this scam.

Police offer some tips to avoid becoming the victim of a door-to-door scam:

  • Always ask for professional credentials: a name, the name of the business and contact information.
  • Call police if that person cannot provide that information.
  • Don't let anyone in your home who does not have an appointment.
  • Install security cameras where you can talk to the person without opening the door.

"Don't take a person at face value,” said Ratliff. "Look for the identifiers that identify that they're with whatever utility or company they say they're with. Ask for identification. If you're not comfortable with that person or the identification they provide, call the police department."

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