East Bay News

Robbers posing as PG&E workers hit Oakland area

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Robbers posing as utility workers have struck again in the Bay Area. This time they rifled a home on the Oakland-Piedmont border. But officials also say they've hit commercial areas, and police are warning people to be careful.

People are nervous to be walking and shopping on Lakeshore and Grand avenues. They tell us that through emails they're hearing about the latest robberies.

One of the latest ones was at a nail salon where masked men went inside and robbed the employees and the clients.

People tell us it's also happening to people inside their homes. The latest one happened Tuesday on Sunnyhills Road. And in many cases they're posing as work crews to get inside the house.

In one case the perpetrator said he was with the city, that there had been a water main break, and that the homeowner needed to move his car, then he was robbed at gunpoint.

In Tuesday's incident, the robbers pretended to be with PG&E.

"People put on some orange vest, knock at the door, say they need to look at the back of the property, they claim they're from PG&E," Oakland resident Dean Zumach said. "The homeowner went back there, let them in. And while they're back there, distracting them, somebody goes in their house and raids everything. You know, not only are they robbing people on the streets. But, you know, we're not even safe in our homes. Usually, somebody knocks on the door you open the door. And it's terrifying to think that you can't do that anymore."

Zumach is one of the activists in the neighborhood, calling for changes.

PG&E gave us a list of safety tips reminding people to ask to see ID and to call PG&E when in doubt about the person at your door. And if you did make an appointment they say you will receive a phone call prior to the PG&E appointment to confirm it.

Residents tell me they are ready to get organized. They do not want to tolerate this and they are worried people are going to get hurt.

In a brief phone interview, Oakland Councilmember Pat Kernighan tells me she is working on scheduling a community meeting to address this for the week of September 9. She's still working to confirm an exact date.

According to Kernighan, police are addressing this. She says they've been adding bike patrols to the area. But the problem is that sometimes when they crackdown in one neighborhood, the crime tends to shift to another neighborhood. So it appears it's shifted to this neighborhood.

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Tags:
oakland, piedmont, PG&E, crime, east bay news, amy hollyfield
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