West Jefferson Police Chief Brian Grogan cited two recent incidents of a woman who is described by witnesses as being between the ages of 35 to 40 years old with sandy blonde hair, at shoulder length with a “northern accent” and posing as a utility worker in the residential area of West Jefferson.
Grogan said that this woman was accompanied by a male on both occasions who waited for her in “some type of black SUV or truck.” During both incidents, the woman would tell the residents that she was a utility worker who needed to come into the home to perform some type of maintenance. Grogan said that on Christmas Day the woman attempted to gain the victim’s trust by “asking about family members and pictures” that were placed in the home. While in the home the woman “checked some of the windows in the house” before leaving, the victim said to the authorities.
A few days later, the owner discovered that a safe in the house had been broken into and cash was missing from it. Grogan stated that he is “not certain if the two incidents are related but more than likely are.”
A similar report surfaced of a woman fitting the same description trying to come into a home but her efforts were refused.
Ashe County Sheriff James Williams has received similar reports in other portions of the county of a woman posing as a Blue Ridge Electric employee attempting to come into residences to “look at a fuse panel” or “telling people that they need to bury a cable or to check wiring.” He said that the perpetrators may be targeting the county’s elderly population and may be searching for cash or prescription medication.
Williams explained that residents should be weary of such requests and should promptly ask for the supposed employee’s identification.
“If they are working for Blue Ridge or a legitimate concern, they will have a uniform on and identification to show who they are working with,” Williams said. “Don’t hesitate to ask for ID. If you aren’t sure, don’t let them in the house and call the police.”
If possible, Williams said, residents should try take “mental note” of the suspect’s description and a license plate number of the vehicle they are traveling in.
Blue Ridge Electric Director of Public Relations Renee R. Whitener urges residences to contact the co-op’s office if anyone “has doubts about a person claiming to be a BRE employee or someone assisting Blue Ridge crews.
“Officials may knock on your door to speak to you from outside, they do not need access inside your home to restore power,” Whitener said
Customers can call toll free 1-800-451-5474 to validate the authenticity of such claims.