Police say a man in plain clothes, claiming to work for PSE&G, told the homeowner he was there to inspect a gas leak
CINNAMINSON, N.J. -- A South Jersey community is on edge after police say an imposter posing as and energy company employee violated the trust of a 93-year-old man and scammed him in his own home.
"The elderly gentlemen let him go inside the house and down in his basement," said Cinnaminson, New Jersey Township Police Chief Richard Calabrese.
Chief Calabrese said a man in plain clothes, claiming to work for PSE&G, the local energy company, told the Cinnaminson homeowner he was there to inspect a gas leak.
Once inside, they said the suspect told the victim to wait downstairs while he went upstairs to check on something.
"After the guy left, he went and checked around and noticed his drawers were ransacked and some items were missing," said Chief Calabrese.
Investigators said he stole jewelry and money, but most importantly, he took this community's sense of security.
"We were petrified after it happened, being in the house. I mean we're old and look like a good target," said a neighbor who didn't want to be identified.
"It's just kinda sad that people take advantage of things," said neighbor Walter Williams.
According to PSE&G, it's not uncommon for a utility worker to come to a home unannounced to inspect a gas leak or read the meter.
"If they're not wearing PSE&G clothing or they don't drive a marked vehicle, those are some big red flags to look for. But the key is to ask for identification," said Rebecca Mazzarella, a spokesperson for PSE&G.
Sadly, these imposter scams are growing. The ABC Philadelphia affiliate WPVI data journalism team discovered that more than 14,000 of these scams were reported in the greater metro area in 2021.
That number doubled compared to the 7,000 imposter scams reported in 2020.
Many of these scammers get away with it, but police are continuing to search for this suspect.
"We feel confident that we will solve this," said Chief Calabrese.
Cinnaminson police said they canvassed the neighborhood looking for surveillance video and are following up on some leads.
Anyone with information is asked to call Cinnaminson police.