Two people posing as utility workers stole a safe from a man's home, investigators said.
Richmond police said a man and a woman traveling in an unmarked white SUV pulled into the driveway of a home in the 1700 block of Magnolia on Wednesday.
Investigators said the pair told resident Stanley Smith that they worked for CenterPoint Energy and they needed to check a meter in his back yard. The man was wearing a CenterPoint Energy cap but neither had any type of CenterPoint Energy identification displayed, officials said.
"He said he was with CenterPoint Energy and they were going to put a new smart meter in," Smith said. "His partner wanted to go back and see where the meter was and how the lines ran because they were going to replace the lines, too."
Smith went into the back yard with the woman while he thought the man stayed with the SUV. She looked at the meter for 10 to 15 minutes, police said.
When Smith went back inside his house, the SUV was gone.
On Friday, Smith went to his safe to take money out of it and discovered that it was missing.
"I came in to get some money for my yard man, reached for the safe and it was gone," Smith said.
He immediately called police.
"I got to thinking just exactly what the CenterPoint Energy people said, and I could tell right then that it almost had to be them," Smith said. "I was taken advantage of."
Smith has a warning for everyone.
"Be careful. These people do exist," he said. "They should be punished."
CenterPoint Energy officials gave tips to spot a real employee from an imposter.
- All CenterPoint Energy employees and contractors wear uniforms and carry identification badges. If the badges are not visible, they will show them upon request.
- If a customer has any doubts about whether or not someone is a CenterPoint Energy employee, they should ask to see their identification badge or call the company’s call center to verify that CenterPoint Energy has an employee in the area.
- All of CenterPoint Energy’s vehicles are marked with the CenterPoint Energy logo.
- In the majority of cases, it is NOT necessary for our employees to enter the home as most of our work is done outside on power and natural gas lines. However, it IS necessary for our natural gas employees, when restoring gas service, to enter a home or business to relight pilots and ensure it is safe to resume natural gas service.