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Public utility is warning residents about imposter posing as a worker

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 1:52 p.m.
Bill Vidonic | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority interim Executive Director Jim Good displays clothing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, that company workers should be wearing when they call on customers.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority employees alerted customers on Thursday because a Lawrenceville woman had reported that a man posing as a utility worker entered her home after threatening to shut off her water.

“It doesn't hurt to remind folks every once in a while to be cautious,” said Jim Good, PWSA interim executive director.

The woman told Pittsburgh police the imposter came to her Butler Street home in Lawrenceville sometime between noon and 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the PWSA.

The man wore a blue jacket and blue pants and was talking on a radio, the company said. He told the woman he was there to check her water pressure and threatened to shut her water off if she didn't let him in.

They went to the basement, where he told her he was checking the water. He told her to count to six slowly and then he left her there. She was not hurt, and it isn't known whether the man took anything from the home, the company said. A suspect has not been identified, and no arrests have been made.

Workers will never arrive unannounced to check water pressure, water heaters or provide other services, Good said, unless a customer calls and asks for assistance. Workers will never ask for money.

If there's a water main break and crew working nearby, Good said, employees might knock on doors to let residents know but will not enter someone's home.

PWSA workers wear blue uniforms that say Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, carry photo identification, and all vehicles are marked with “P.W.S.A.” and have blue and white municipal license plates, officials said.

Anyone who wishes to verify a PWSA worker can call the dispatch service at 412-255-2429 or 412-255-2409.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission receives between five and 10 complaints a year about imposters, spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said. She said most complaints are “aggressively” dealt with by the local utility companies, alerting residents to the incident, and the complaints don't reach the PUC.

Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report. Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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