National Grid will take steps to cut down on "deception burglaries" by people posing as company employees, Sen. Charles Schumer announced Thursday.
The company, which serves more than 500,000 gas customers on Long Island and the Rockaways, is starting a pilot program in three Nassau County communities that will make advance calls to residents about meter-reading visits and will continue to install automatic meter readers, Schumer (D-N.Y.) and National Grid officials said.
The actions come after senior residents in Nassau last month were the victims of burglaries by two suspects who entered their homes disguised as National Grid workers pretending to check for a gas leak, authorities said.
"Parents, senior citizens and other residents of Syosset, Herricks and Westbury should take real comfort in the news that National Grid will help combat the pattern of 'deception burglaries' in these communities," Schumer said in a news release. "From now on, residents in these targeted communities can be confident that the technician at their door is there for utility work, and not to trick them and rob them blind."
Schumer on June 30 urged National Grid to give customers 24-hour advance notice for in-home visits.
He noted in Thursday's release that National Grid president Tom King on Wednesday said the company will take measures to prevent burglaries.
The company also will continue installing automatic meter-reading systems in homes on Long Island, which began last year. Those meters will allow workers to drive by and take a reading using a scanner rather than entering a customer's home for the monthly recording, National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said.
"It's more efficient for the reader and more helpful for the customers," Ladd said. "They [meter readers] never have to go on the property."
Schumer also said in his release that while National Grid is already installing the automatic systems on parts of Long Island, the company will work with contractors to prioritize Syosset, Herricks and Westbury for upgrades.