Feb. 15, 2007 -- Nearly 60,000 American homes are robbed each year. As hard as it is to believe, in some cases, homeowners actually welcome in criminals. In state after state, fake utility workers are robbing homes.
"Good Morning America" safety contributor Bob Stuber recently shared tips on staying safe at home and showed off products that can help ward off criminals.
Criminals often pose as electricians or policemen to get into a house, and it's not always easy to tell a fake ID or badge from the real thing. Stuber said that homeowners need to go beyond the basics to pinpoint bad guys.
"Look for the things that are the hardest to duplicate. A utility worker, a delivery person, a policeman, should all have an official vehicle," Stuber said. "If a worker from the gas company comes around, his truck should have the company's name. That's the kind of thing most would-be crooks can't duplicate. If you don't see a vehicle, don't let him in."
'Judge a Book by Its Cover'
If someone knocks on your door claiming to be a worker or official, take note of their appearance.
"Judge a book by its cover. Most companies will not allow their employees to represent them unless they're dressed properly and look professional," Stuber said. "If someone shows up unshaven, with street clothes, don't let them in until you check them out. If they are wearing a uniform, check to see if it has a clearly readable emblem."
Stuber said that if you're suspicious, leave the person waiting outside, keep the door locked, and call the company they claim to represent.
"Once you open the door, they can do anything they want. So, if you're suspicious, keep them waiting outside, and call the company," he said. "To speed things up you can keep a list of phone numbers for utilities, delivery companies, and other services you might need. The company will tell you if that person is legitimate, and can verify their request."
If the person really isn't who they claim to be, it's likely they'll be gone before you start dialing.
"Before you have a chance to make a call, most criminals will take off," Stuber said.