EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 18, 2013

Police warn of man posing as city worker

Claimed to be from Water Dept., tried to enter homes

By Bill Cantwell

---- — HAVERHILL — Police are warning residents to watch out for a man posing as a city Water Department worker and trying to enter homes.

The man tried to talk his way into two Haverhill homes yesterday, police said.

He told residents that he needed to get into the homes to check the water because of a system emergency, according to police.

Haverhill had several recent water main breaks which caused pressure problems in some neighborhoods and rusty water in some homes. Water Department officials said the broken pipes were likely the result of low temperatures causing freezing of soil around pipes and then expansion due to thawing with higher temperatures.

The residents who were approached yesterday by the man described him as 5 feet-9 inches tall, heavy set, in his early 30s and clean shaven, according to police. The residents said he was driving a dark-colored pickup truck.

Police said any worker sent to a home would have a city department identification card, which includes a photo of the worker. Any such worker would also be driving a vehicle bearing the City of Haverhill seal identifying it as being from a city department, police said. They also said Haverhill has hired a company to replace water meters in homes, but workers from that company also carry identifications.

Police cautioned residents not to let anyone claiming to be a city worker into homes without seeing a proper identification or if they are at all uncomfortable.

Haverhill issues identifications to city workers because of incidents in past years where people saying they were from city departments tried to get into homes.

Police Lt. Robert Pistone gave these details of the reports from residents who saw the man:

At 3 p.m. yesterday, a man who lives on Lansing Avenue said he heard someone ringing the doorbell of his home and knocking on the front door repeatedly. He went to the door and the man said he needed to check the water in the home because of an emergency.

The homeowner let him in, and the man turned on the bathroom faucets. The man also asked the homeowner for change for a bill. The resident then became concerned and asked the man to leave, which he did. The man was on a cell phone the entire time he was in the home. He drove off in a pickup truck.

At 3:30 p.m., a man with the same description drove a dark blue pickup truck into the driveway of a home on Arlington Terrace, about three miles away from Lansing Avenue. He rang the doorbell and told the woman who answered that he was from the Water Department and needed to come in to check the home’s water.

She refused to let him in and the man then asked if her husband was home. She shut the door and the man ran to his truck and quickly drove off. The woman then called 911.

Pistone said in the Lansing Avenue incident, the man may have been casing the home to see if any valuables were there. In the second incident, Pistone said police are concerned because the man asked if the woman’s husband was home.

“What we want to get out to the community is, first and foremost, that people should ask for the ID,’’ Pistone said of the identifications carried by city workers. “If they are not comfortable or they are in fear, they can call 911. If they want to verify who the worker is, they can call the Water Department. Or do not answer your door at all if there is a concern.’’