Meadow Vista neighbors experiencing PG&E shutoffs on alert for fraudsters going door to door

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MEADOW VISTA, Calif. (KTXL) -- Neighbors in Meadow Vista already worried about dealing with another round of shutoffs said Tuesday they now have to worry about people who might try to take advantage of empty homes and those without alarm systems.

"Yeah, it's a tough situation," said resident Shawn Severinsen.

After experiencing his third Pacific Gas & Electric shutoff this month, Severinsen had his routine down to a science.

“This is my job in the morning. Wake up, turn the generator on, take the ice out of the fridge," said Severinsen.

When the power is out, the generators are outside of homes all across Meadow Vista. But Severinsen was dealing with concerns a generator can’t prepare for, such as burglars seeing outages as an opportunity.

“I mean anytime there’s these situations there’s going to be people trying to take advantage," said Severinsen.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a report of men knocking on a house without power pretending to be with the sheriff's office. When the homeowner showed them she was there, they ran away. She thought they were casing the house to try to steal.

“Burglars are going to look for easy targets. Houses without lighting, houses that are unoccupied, houses without alarms. Anything that would attract or draw activity where they’re not going to be discovered," said Placer County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Scott.

Lt. Scott explained that all those features match areas going through shutoffs. But there are some ways neighbors can protect themselves.

“If you have any doubt that the person [at your door] is a PG&E worker or a law enforcement officer, call 911. We will respond and we can make sure that the person is who they say they are," said Scott.

Scott also pointed out that law enforcement will not show up at your house out of uniform or in unmarked cars.

“It’s always a good idea when something unusual happens like these power outages that you just keep an eye out for your neighbor," said Scott.

It's advice Severinsen was taking to heart.

“I’m mainly concerned for the people who are retired. There’s some people around here who live alone. So we check on them," said Severinsen.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office wanted to stress that the outage would not impact deputies' response times. Officials said the 911 center has a generator that will keep them dully functional, so they are ready and able to deal with any concerns residents have.

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