Local pol pushes for stricter security, harsher penalties against disguised home invasions

One local politician is pushing for utility companies to safeguard their customers better from potential home intruders.

Councilmember Mark Treyger told this paper that, following a rash of incidents in which robbers tried to enter South Brooklyn residents’ homes disguised as Con Edison or National Grid employees, he is pushing not just for stricter security measures but also for harsher penalties for such thieves.

“We’ve heard some pretty horrible stories of people dressing up as utility workers, and we’re seeing that this is happening across the five boroughs,” said Treyger, whose district includes portions of Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Coney Island, among others. “What has troubled me is that the reaction in all of these cases from the utility companies is that people need to be more vigilant. In my opinion, the complete onus should not be on the homeowner.”

These companies, Treyger believes, have the responsibility to improve the way they do business – especially in today’s digital age.

“There’s a flaw in their process,” he explained. “Right now, they have a worker come to your door carrying an ID card. The problem there is that the average New Yorker might not know what that ID card is supposed to look like.”

The remedy, Treyger suggests, is as simple as a four to five digit code.

“In my opinion, the customer should be given the opportunity to create a secret PIN number so that, each time a Con Edison employee or a National Grid employee comes to their door, in addition to announcing themselves from the company and flashing their ID card, they can also announce the secret PIN number.

“If they don’t know that number for any reason, the customer should not open the door and should call 911 immediately,” he went on. “I think this is an added layer of security and, quite frankly, I think these utility companies owe it to their clients.”

In addition, Treyger told this paper that he is working closely with colleagues like Assemblymember Pam Harris and State Senator Diane Savino on exploring potential state legislation that would make it a penalty for someone to dress up as a utility worker to gain unlawful entry into a person’s home.

“Right now, it is a crime to gain unlawful entry, but we’re exploring the possibility of making it an even stronger crime if you dress up as a utility worker,” he explained. “The complete onus right now is on the customer to trust that the employee at the door is from the company. Simply saying that the customer should be more vigilant is not sufficient when there are gaping holes in the current structure.”

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