Police: Beware of storm cleanup scams

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 5:22 p.m.
staff photo by Haley Hughes
Crews with AT&T work on lines in a neighborhood in the Forest Hill area in Aiken on Monday. In the foreground is a large tree uprooted by the recent ice storm.
staff photo by Haley Hughes Crews with AT&T work on lines in a neighborhood in the Forest Hill area in Aiken on Monday. In the foreground is a large tree uprooted by the recent ice storm.

As Aiken County begins cleaning up after last week's destructive winter ice storm, the Aiken Department of Public Safety is urging residents to beware of scammers wanting to remove debris from yards.

Aiken Public Safety has received several complaints of individuals approaching homes and asking for permission to clean yards, and charging an excessive amount of money to do so.

“When people would ask about it, it was in the thousands of dollars, and an additional fee for taking the materials off,” Detective Jeremy Hembree said. “That seems excessive to us, based on what we're hearing from other businesses.”

Hembree said a number of individuals and businesses from out of town are approaching residents. In order to operate within City limits, the person or business must have a business license.

“It lets us know where they're working and who the responsible parties for the business are,” Hembree said.

A license is issued to the person or business for a fee, and allows the City to verify a number of questions about the business, such as whether or not it is insured.

If you receive a call or a visit from someone offering to do yard work or cleanup for you, Hembree suggested asking to see their business license. If you suspect you or a loved one have been taken advantage of, contact local law enforcement.

Citywide pickup of yard debris has been suspended until all the roadways have been cleared, but residents may go ahead and pile the debris at the roadside. If you have the capabilities, you can also load the debris and haul it to the empty field on East Pine Log Road in front of Churchill Commons. Hembree said the field is for yard debris of City residents only.

City garbage and recycling pickup has already resumed its normal operation. A little more than 3,000 Aiken County residents were still without power as of Monday afternoon. SCE&G was reporting about 1,700 outages in Aiken County, and Aiken Electric Co-op was reporting about 1,400 outages

The City of Aiken is requesting that city residents should report any price gouging and/or scalping to Public Safety at 803-642-7620. The Sheriff's Office can be reached at 803-642-1761.

Editor's note: This article has been edited to reflect that the City of Aiken does charge a fee for a business license.

Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.

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