In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, many people are still working on cleaning up and getting their homes and property back in order. For some this is not a job that they are willing or able to tackle on their own. There are commercial cleaning crews who specialize in this sort of cleanup, but there are also those who attempt to take advantage of a person seeking assistance.

A person who would not generally hire a person to clean and move items in their homes may have to do so as part of the cleanup. A homeowner may contract with someone they have found listed on craigslist or even just a couple of guys who are going door-to-door. For the most part, these services are legitimate. But unfortunately in some instances there is a risk of theft or fraud.

In one recent New Jersey case, two men told a homeowner that they were employed by the county to survey storm damage. One man asked the homeowner to take him to his backyard to show him what had happened to the property during the storm. Police say that a few minutes later the homeowner noticed that the other man had entered his home and was now coming out the front door. The two men fled before the homeowner could stop them or police could arrive.

In another instance Rochelle Park police received a report that individuals had offered to help a homeowner remove flood damaged furniture from his home. He asserts that he later saw one of the individuals attempting to steal a coin collection.

Obviously this type of behavior presents a risk to homeowners. But it also presents a risk to those who are attempting to help others cleanup from the storm. If someone is hired to help clean up a house and something is missing, they are automatically a suspect, regardless of whether there is any real evidence of a crime.

Source: Associated Press “NJ police warn of flood zone theft attempts” Sept. 2, 2011