It pays to be careful answering the front door. A couple of ladies who live in the Park Forest Estates subdivision in Black Forest told me last week about a suspicious incident involving two men who apparently were driving around in a white mini-van, knocking on people's doors, and claiming they needed to check the water pipes.
One woman who answered the door says two men stood on her doorstep and claimed they were with the Park Forest Water District. They didn't offer to show her any credentials, but one pushed his way inside while the other went back to the van.
Once the man was in the kitchen, he turned on the tap. He then looked under the sink at the pipes and asked if she had seen any sludge in the water. She told him no and then he said he wanted to pay her $80 for the water they used, but all he had was a $100 bill. He asked if she had $20 in change.
Alarm bells went off in her mind and she thought of a way to get him out of the house and then locked the door. She doesn't believe any of her belongings are missing, but she was upset by the incident.
I checked with the Park Forest Water District and was told no one with the district had made any house calls to that neighborhood. Lynn Willow, operator in responsible charge, says he knows every customer in the Black Forest area and he and his assistant are the only ones who make house calls.
He says in most cases, he calls first or leaves fliers on customers' doors to let them know he needs access to their homes. He says the men who came calling were not employees and his staffers would never operate that way.
He also said billing is never handled in person and that $80 would be an astronomical amount to pay. Willow told me, "I think the men need to be arrested and prosecuted. Especially in Black Forest we have a lot of elderly residents. They're just preying on people. It's wrong."
Willow warns customers not to let a stranger in the house. He said they should lock the front door, call the district, and check the story first. He also wants people in the Park Forest Water District to feel free to call him anytime at 719-373-4340.
It's tempting to open the front door when someone comes calling, but if you're suspicious don't open up. Talk through the door and call the utility company to verify the worker's story.
Contact Betty Sexton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-0000.