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Police Issue Warning For Suspects Posing As PECO Workers After Multiple Burglaries

By Tim Jimenez and Elizabeth Hur

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Police have a warning out to residents after two South Philadelphia burglaries last week. Police say suspects, pretending to be public utility workers, went into two homes and left with cash and valuables.

The two similar incidents happened in homes about two miles apart in South Philadelphia.

On the afternoon of April 5, authorities say a man claiming to be a PECO worker knocked on a door on the 1800 block of South 15th Street. The suspect said he was checking faulty outlets and police say the victim let him in and he left without incident.

Two days later police say a man, claiming to be a co-worker of the first suspect, told the victim he was going to fix those outlets. He was allowed in and after he left police say the victim noticed he was missing jewelry and checks.

Not far away, also on April 5, police say a man and woman knocked on a door on the 300 block of Ritner Street. Police say the suspects told the victim they were city workers who also needed to check faulty outlets. Police say they left the home with $1,000 in cash.

Philadelphia police are joining utility companies in warning residents about such thefts.

"We notify customers ahead of time if we're going to be performing work in the area or if we need access to their home or property," explains PECO spokeswoman Liz Williamson.

"A potential gas leak in the area or if there was a utility pole that was hit and there was danger of wires that would come down," Williamson said, describing certain cases in which PECO workers may ask to come in. "Checking outlets would not be an emergency situation."

Police also urge residents to ask public utility workers, who may come to the door, to identify themselves.

"PECO employees will have a badge that has our logo, (the employee's) name, as well as a photo of the employee," Williamson said. "Also, our employees will be dressed in a uniform either with a blue long-sleeved shirt with the PECO logo or an orange t-shirt with the PECO logo as well."

Police also urge you to call the utility companies before unlocking your door if you are unsure about the worker.

The phone numbers for the major utilities in Philadelphia are listed below.

PECO - 1-800-494-4000
PGW - 215-235-1000
Water Department - 215-685-6300
Verizon - 1-800-837-4966
Comcast - 1-800-266-2278

If you are still uneasy or have an emergency please call 911.

Descriptions of Suspects:

Incident #1 - From April 5 - Black male, 30-40 years-of-age, 5'5", thin build, short hair, wearing a dark blue uniform and carrying a maroon folder or book with PECO on the cover.

From April 7 - Black male, 30-40 years-of-age, 6' to 6'2", thin build, wearing a dark blue uniform and baseball cap, carrying a bag.

Incident #2 – Black male, 50 years-of-age, 5'7", wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants. White Female, 50 years-of-age, 5'2", 120 lbs, also wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

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