Police: Fake handymen target elderly residents

Police: Fake handymen target elderly residents (Reporter: Jon Erickson)

TRENT WOODS, CRAVEN COUNTY - A Trent Woods resident got a jarring reminder that soliciting in the Craven County town is prohibited.

Peggy, who asked that we only use her first name, had a stranger approach her and tell her she needed roof work.

She paid the man $15 to do a small repair, but declined to have the man or his work crew do any further work.

"I think that he was just trying to scam me," Peggy said.

And police agreed.

Trent Woods Police accused the man, identified as 24-year-old Christopher Lanier, of violating the anti-soliciting law and trying to deceive Peggy.

Authorities arrested Lanier, of Rocky Mount, last week.

"Typically [scammers] prey on elderly folks" by going door-to-door, said Trent Woods Police Chief Tony Lee.

A Trent Woods ordinance has banned soliciting in the town since the early 1970s.

A soliciting charge is usually accompanied by a charge of obtaining property by false pretense, because a "handyman" will trick a resident into believing repairs are necessary, Lee said.

Lee said his department sees up to approximately a half-dozen such cases every year.

There are about three such cases that police are actively investigating.

Lee said anyone who has had a solicitor approach his or her home can contact police.

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