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Utility Worker Burglary Scam Revived in Oklahoma City

01-Jun-2015

Late last week, Oklahoma City police issued a warning about a burglary scam that has happened several times over the years. 

According a Friday post to the Oklahoma City Police Department Facebook page, the department's burglary unit is investigating reports of a group of transients who commit burglaries while posing as Oklahoma City utility workers. Police say the group is known to move into different areas of the country and stay for weeks or even months while committing burglaries and acts of fraud intended to dupe people out of their money. 

In the Facebook report, the department describes the recent burglaries this way:

"The suspects in the metro area are using the scam that they are employed as utility workers for the City. In each case, they have lured the victims out of their homes and used excuses such as needing to bury power lines or to check utility meters in the victims backyards. Once one of the suspects gets the victim in the back yard, another suspect moves in and takes property from the victim's residence."

Suspects are described as white or Hispanic males wearing work clothes, vests, and hard hats. They are said to be driving a clean, newer-model Dodge Ram pickup that is either tan or silver. In some cases, they even place orange safety  cones around the vehicle in an attempt to look like they are doing legitimate work at the residence.

Police believe that three recent robberies in Oklahoma City are related and were committed by the same group:

  • 3200 block of NW 34th Street- May 3rd 
  • 1200 block of SW 35th St.- May 11th 
  • 1700 block of Exchange Ave.- May 15th

Officials say Oklahoma City employees typically park close to the line of sight of the front door so that when a resident answers the door they immediately see the city truck or van, which has labels and emblems on both sides of the vehicle. Additionally, Oklahoma City employees wear badges identifying them as such, and they rarely knock on homeowners' doors without an appointment. 

Police say if you have any concerns about a purported city employee or utility worker who is at your home to call 9-1-1 for assistance. Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 405-235-7300.

In Oklahoma, burglary is classified as either first degree burglary or second degree burglary.

First degree burglary is defined in 21 O.S. § 1431 as breaking and entering an occupied home, in which someone is actually present, with the intent to commit a crime, under the following circumstances:

  1. By forcibly bursting or breaking the wall, or an outer door, window, or shutter of a window of such house or the lock or bolts of such door, or the fastening of such window or shutter; or 
  2. By breaking in any other manner, being armed with a dangerous weapon or being assisted or aided by one or more confederates then actually present; or 
  3. By unlocking an outer door by means of false keys or by picking the lock thereof, or by lifting a latch or opening a window

While second degree burglary is a felony punishable by 2 to 7 years in prison, the potential sentence for first degree burglary is 7 to 20 years in prison. 



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