NJ Continues Pursuit of Storm Related Criminals [AUDIO]
State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says his office has been aggressively investigating and preventing all Superstorm Sandy-related crimes through out the state. He says eight gas stations are being sued so far for alleged price gouging during a declared State of Emergency.
He says last week he’s sworn in over 280 of State Troopers from several states to patrol storm-ravaged areas to prevent looting. Something he says has been working in keeping wide spread looting at bay. He says Investigators from the State Division of Consumer Affairs have also been dispatched to look into numerous complaints.
However, as residents begin the process of recovery, he wants homeowners to be especially cautious about hiring home repair contractors. Chiesa advises residents to only hire licensed contractors who are registered with the state. He says there are 42,000 contractors registered and they have a hotline set up for any inquiries at 1-800-242-5846.
Chiesa also adds that folks should not, under any circumstance, give a contractor the full amount for any job that’s being done. He says you can give a deposit if it’s a reasonable amount and if it’s a large-scale job or any job, you should get a written contract. “The written contract should identify exactly what the work that’s going to be done, exactly how much it’s gonna cost, how long the work’s expected to take so that they’re protected.”
He also says they’re expecting an influx of con-artists posing as reputable charities to prey on the generosity of people who want to help storm victims. He says you can call the hotline to ask about registered charities as well.
The uproar over a Toms River Towing company accused of ripping off Seaside Heights residents has prompted an investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutors Office. Prosecutor Marlene Lynch-Ford says “we are aware that there are allegations of excessive prices. They may or may not conflict with state law and that’s what we’re looking into.”
The Prosecutors Office has also set up a Hurricane Sandy Task Force to assist local Police Departments in the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Lynch-Ford says the Task Force is being coordinated by Sr. Assistant Prosecutor Martin Anton who can be reached at (732) 929-2027.