Service Worker Background Check - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Service Worker Background Check

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Americans spend billions of dollars on alarm systems every year, but a number of criminals enter homes through the front door, and the homeowner even holds the door for them. Service companies in our area have employees working for them with criminal records. Tonight, Ric Blackwell looks at what you can do to protect your belongings and insure the safety of your family.

The cable guy, movers, the phone company, meter readers, plumbers, electricians, maids, carpet cleaners, pest control... When you open up your house to get work done, do you really know who the person is on the other side?

Palm Beach pest control worker Kim Cain killed Geraldyn Pucillo, and in Palm City, Maintenance Man Timothy Owens brutally beat an 82 year old woman. You may have heard of those cases but what goes unreported are the large number of thefts from workers you invite into your home--stealing, while you're not looking.

Paula doesn't want us to use her last name.

"Television was not working at all."

She called Adelphia and a worker came to her Jupiter home and fixed her TV. Paula was so pleased, she got her purse and gave the man a 20 dollar tip.

"He wanted more. He took a lot more."

Paula's convinced he took her wallet from the purse she was hiding behind the door...

"He was here, not very bright, I put it back there. Left the room for a couple of minutes and when I came back the wallet was gone."

Very scared, Paula did not confront the man. He left, she called Jupiter Police. Detectives later questioned the worker, but without evidence they could not make an arrest. She lost $500 and all her credit cards.

"It's a terrible feeling."

Paula did some digging and found the worker...

"had a record with burglary."

Commercial: "At Stanley Steemer, we want you to feel safe...that's why we do background checks and drug testing for every employee."

Stanley Steemer believes their workers are as clean as their carpets.

"If you're using our company, you'll be getting people you can trust, people who have been checked and that's important to the customer."

It's important to Robynne Cruise...

"My husband is not home, I'm here with the baby, knowing they're screened makes me feel comfortable."

Comfortable but cautious. Most companies don't checks for crimes committed in all 50 states or out of the country and in most places, once they hire an employee, they do not do regular checks.

"Don't assume that it's all OK, no matter how big company is, do a little bit of homework and don't leave purse out, even if it's locked up."

Your home is your sanctuary. Don't let it be a target.

Security Experts suggest the following: deal with reputable companies and when you call up a businesses, ask them if they do background checks on their employees--how far back do they go and do they look for illegal behavior both in state and out of state. Also ask if they employ sub-contractors. No matter who comes to your door, keep your money and valuables in a locked safe or drawer. And If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, do not let the person inside your home.

By the way, Adelphia says its "technicians perform thousands of residential service calls in South Florida each week --- and hundreds of thousands each year -- without incident. We conduct background checks on all our field personnel and customers are entitled to see a form of identification or to call us for verification before allowing a tech into their home. To suggest, based on a few isolated an unfortunate incidents, that there is personal risk associated with a cable service call is just plain wrong. We do not see this as a cause for undue concern for our customers."

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