Northeast Detectives are continuing to look into two reports of a man who identifies himself as a PECO Energy employee trying to get personal information from Somerton residents. So far, there have been no arrests.
Capt. Joseph Zaffino, commander of the 7th Police District, in early December said the young black man was well-dressed and well-spoken and was going around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, asking to see resident’ electric bills.
A Wissinoming woman told the Northeast Times last week that a man answering that description came to her door, too, but he didn’t tell her he was a PECO employee. Instead, he said he worked for a competing power company and said he could show her hidden charges on her electric bill. The woman said she didn’t recall the name of the company the man said he represented.
Rich Simon, the 7th district’s community relations officer, said last week there have been no new reports of the man knocking on doors in the 7th.
PECO spokesman Ben Armstrong said some of the utility’s competitors do send reps door-to-door. They ask to see residents’ PECO bills in attempts to drum up customers. Armstrong said PECO wouldn’t send anybody out to solicit business and that a PECO employee would already have access to a resident’s bill, know the resident’s account number and even the last payment made.
“We have no need to ask for a bill. We have the bill,” he said.
PECO employees who need to visit a residence, unless it is an emergency, would have contacted the resident by phone or my letter before the visit, he said.
Zaffino warned residents not to confront the man, and instead, call 911. Armstrong said a PECO worker’s identity can be confirmed by calling 1-800-494-4000.
A criminal pretending to be a utility worker is not a new dodge.
In the past few years, Northeast residents have been robbed and sometimes assaulted by men who claim to work for the Philadelphia Gas Works or Philadelphia Water Department and need immediate access to their victims’ homes. Sometimes, working in teams, one man distracts a resident or gets the resident to escort him to the basement while another quietly enters and begins taking money and valuables.
Often, older residents are targeted, police have said. ••EndFragment