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In Eugene, thieves' latest ruse includes dressing up like utility workers

Brian Bull
Reflective vests are worn by utility, construction, and traffic workers as part of their safety gear.

A recent incident in southeast Eugene suggests burglars are posing as utility workers to access people’s homes.

Single mom and UO adjunct professor Rebecca Schuman was pulling into her driveway when she saw two men in reflective vests, the same kind worn by utility workers.

”But also carrying a bunch of my stuff, so they no longer looked like utility workers!” Schuman told KLCC. “So I just gunned it down the street in my ancient Subaru that happens to have a turbo engine, so I cornered them in the alley.”

Schuman used her “mad mom” voice and annoyed the pair. She got some stuff back, including two laptops and her daughter’s iPad (the thieves still have her ex-husband’s broken scooter.)

Aaron Orlowski of EWEB said actual utility workers would have branded vests and vehicles, and a utility photo ID.

“If you have doubts you can always call EWEB and verify that the person is supposed to be there,” he added. “That number’s (541)685-7000. Also, listeners can visit EWEB.org/scams, and that does have some more information.”

Utility workers do read meters on homes, or work on poles or downed branches, so it’s always helpful to ask when in doubt.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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