NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Local police reminded city residents that "anyone who legitimately works for the City will have proper identification" after a Tunison Road resident was scammed by imposters.
"If a resident has any doubt, they should call the police department before letting anyone have access to their residence," reads the Nixle alert issued to community members on February 27.
Earlier that day, at approximately 3:10 pm, city police responded to an unspecified address in either Rutgers Village or Edgebrooke, two neighborhoods on the edge of town, to investigate what they called a "flim/flam burglary."
According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "flimflam" means "deceptive nonsense," and it appears the term applies to this case.
According to New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) Captain JT Miller, his department is investigating the scam, "in which a female suspect… knocked on the victim's door and identified herself as a City employee."
"She indicated that there was a gas leak in the victim's water pipes and she needed access to the basement," continued Miller.
Naturally, water pipes would leak water, not gas. But the resident approached in this case still allowed accesss to their home, apparently trusting the individuals at their door about their stated affiliation.
"The victim escorted the suspect to the basement, meanwhile a male suspect… entered the house and removed contents belonging to the victim," said Miller.
The unusual request came nearly three months after two Water Utility employees were criminally charged in a bribery scheme, and amid heightened concerns about water quality in the Hub City.
New Brunswick Water Utility employees, as well as employees of Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), the power company that serves New Brunswick, are required to carry official identification when visiting residences or businesses.
The female suspect was described as being of "Indian descent, thin build with long brown hair," while the male suspect was described as, "Indian descent with short hair," according to Miller.
Miller indicated that both suspects "walked away from the victim’s residence on foot" and that "no suspect vehicle was observed."
"If anyone encounters a similar request or has information on this investigation, they should contact the police department's detective bureau at (732) 745-5217 or call the main number at (732) 745-5200," reads the NBPD's Nixle alert.
"If you feel you are in danger or have doubts regarding someone knocking on your door requesting access, call 9-1-1 and request police assistance."