Darien Police have arrested two alleged chimney sweeps they say attempted to scam a 73-year-old Darien resident out of over $1,000 of unnecessary chimney repairs.
Police say the resident, wary of last week's scam, filed a report of a home repair company's "strange claims" of cheap, reliable and requisite chimney services.
In a sting conducted Wednesday afternoon, police say Christopher Cullen, age 30, and 20-year-old Thomas Musial of All City Chimney of West Babylon, N.Y., arrived at the victim's home for a "routine cleaning," and then attempted to sell expensive repairs that were not properly permitted.
Cullen and Musial were arrested on the following charges:
- Second Degree Larceny of a Victim Over 60
- Failure to Provide Notice of Cancellation
- Failure to Provide Duplicate Notice of Cancellation
- Failure to Orally Notify Notice of Cancellation
- Impersonating a Registered Home Improvement Contractor
- Offering Home Improvement Without Registration
- Failure to Posses/Display Connecticut Sales Tax Permit
- Failure to File Trade Name Certificate
- Performing Occupational Trade Work Without a License
An arrest warrant was found for Cullen, suspected by Greenwich Police for Fourth Degree Larceny and assorted home improvement violations. He is being held at the Darien Police Department on $25,000 bond.
Police say Musial has an active arrest warrant, originating from the New York Suffolk County Police Department; as such, he faces the added charge of Fugitive From Justice and is being held on $125,000 bond.
Sgt. Jeremiah Marron of the Darien Police said this isn't the first time the department has heard from All City Chimney. Representatives from the same company scammed an 82-year-old Darien resident chimney repairs in excess of $15,000 last October, he said.
While still early in the investigation, Sgt. Marron said it's unlikely that there is any connection between today's arrests and those made last week.
"I think it's just time of year and the weather that brings these people into the area," he said.
On behalf of the Darien Police Department, Lt. Ronald Bussell urges residents investing in chimney work to first do their homework, so as not to get burned.
"We want people to stop, think and check references, before they get any kind of home repair; and we want to get the word out that we arrested these guys," said Lt. Bussell.
Some tips of precaution from the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection:
- Never hire a chimney sweep who shows up at your door uninvited
- Be aware of telemarketers who offer free or inexpensive chimney service
- Get a second and third opinion and written estimates
- Don't let threats of carbon monoxide frighten you into making an abrupt decision
- Do not pay a deposit
- Don't cut corners by hiring cheaper unlicensed or unregistered workers
- Before signing a contract, check the contractor's insurance
- If wronged, file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection