By Annette Dashofy
I had an opportunity to meet our local police chief last week. He’s relatively new to the area and I’ve stopped at the station a couple of times, but he was out on patrol.
Needing to call 9-1-1 to bring him to my mom’s house was NOT how I’d envisioned our first meeting.
Last Tuesday, my mom phoned me to ask if the water company had just been at my house. I replied, “No.” After all, we don’t have city water. She then went on to tell me that a guy had been at her house and wanted to check her water. He had an elaborate story about how they were going to lay pipe behind her house the next day and he needed to make sure her well water wasn’t contaminated.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking, wouldn’t you have HEARD that your property was about to be dug up for water or sewer lines? And why would the well water be contaminated before any work was done?
The man who appeared to be Hispanic and spoke with an accent, then asked Mom to go into the bathroom to flush the toilet, which she did. It’s a small house. It didn’t take long. He took her into the kitchen to run hot and cold water. All the time, he was telling her how they would be using big generators and setting up lights in the pasture behind her house.
Mom says it sounded fishy, but she didn’t know what to do.
My first question was “Is this guy still there?” She said he wasn’t. She also seemed quite stunned when I told her I was calling the cops.
I’m still shaking my head. I thought I had her trained. I thought she knew better than to let a stranger with no uniform, no ID, and driving an unmarked van into her house. (Insert gnashing of teeth and screams of frustration from yours truly here)
I live two doors away, so I hoofed it over there after notifying 9-1-1. Her purse had been sitting on the kitchen chair, but it was untouched. Her meager spending money was still inside as were her car and house keys.
The local township’s chief of police is a really nice guy. He didn’t laugh when Mom told him her tale and I sat with my eyes closed, shaking my head. Instead, he called the station to verify there were no work orders for the water company or the gas company in our area.
But the water company IS laying line a few miles south of here and have been for several months. Mom has seen them. And that was just enough to give this scam artist’s story a hint of credibility in her mind.
My mom was lucky. As far as we can tell, nothing was stolen. She wasn’t hurt. The only thing stolen from her that day was her sense of peace and safety.
Mom says the guy was talking on a cell phone the whole time. I have to wonder if he had a partner out in the van and if he’d spotted something in the house nicer than her 10-year-old cell phone, her 20 year old TV set and her obsolete VCR, might he have signaled to the partner to come in? I don’t know. I probably don’t want to know.
And lest you think this is a crime against the elderly, a couple in their forties was hit the next day and money was stolen.
Be on your guard. DO NOT LET ANYONE IN YOUR HOUSE. Workmen carry ID and drive marked vehicles.
My mom has learned (I hope) to NOT be nice. She said the guy was so polite and had a nice smile. And she asked him if he was legit (after he was already in the house!). He told her “yes.”
“What the hell did you expect him to say?” I asked her.
I have a few more gray hairs today than I did last week.
On the other hand, the chief invited to come down to the station to pick his brain about my novel anytime I want.