1/26/15, Be Careful

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is going well. It seems weird to think that the holidays were only a few weeks ago, it feels more like months!!! I’m plunged into the New Year, and getting very busy now with meetings and writing.

I had an experience a few days ago, which seems smart to share. It’s something that happens in every city and country, and is a product of our sometimes troubled world and economy, I guess. You read about it in the newspapers, often with a very unhappy ending, and it really is smart to be careful!!!

Two men rang the intercom to my apartment in the morning a few days ago. They said they were from the gas company, but wore no uniforms or anything to identify them as from the gas company. They said they had to come in to “photograph around the apartment, to look for my gas meters, because the gas company was planning to change them”. The hour was not unusual: 10 am, but the story seemed odd to me. Not impossible, but maybe a little off. My gas meters had been changed for newer ones a year or so ago. The men did not look particularly official, had no uniform, or cap or badge to make them seem official (although some people are in full uniform and can be frauds too!!). And there was no way I was letting 2 strange men into my apartment, to wander around, taking photographs. In France, we always receive a letter from any maintenance company (gas, phone, alarms, etc.) well in advance, often weeks in advance to warn us of such a visit. I had had no letter to warn me, which was the most suspicious part of their plan. I called the gas company quickly, and miraculously, a person answered, not a machine, and they told me that it was a bogus story, they were not sending anyone out on missions like that, and had sent no one to me. I then went back to the intercom where the men were still waiting, and I told them I was not letting them in. They got nasty then, and threatened me, and they said that if I didn’t let them in immediately, they would cut my gas line then and there (which they couldn’t do, I’m sure), and I told them to do whatever they wanted, they weren’t coming in. They argued about it very aggressively for a while. Without telling them, I called the police. The men must have realized the ruse wasn’t working, and they left, before the police came. The police said it was a common ruse, and unless I had some real proof that the mission was real (an advance warning letter in the mail from the gas company), never let people like that in. It was the first time it had ever happened to me. I had only recently issued warnings about things like that to my family who stay with me, and people who work for me. But only when you are nose to nose with it, does it bring the point home. And I think that the recent violence in France has made people more cautious, but this is a scenario which has always worried me. And now I saw it in action.

I could so easily imagine some much older person, alone, faced with threats of cutting off their gas, letting people like that into their home. And then, only God knows what would happen: a robbery, a theft, a mugging, an assessment for a future robbery, or worse. It can happen to any unsuspecting person, or even in a distracted moment when you let your guard down.

Companies like Federal Express in France don’t have enough regular employees, so they often send out workers they subcontract with, with no Uniform or official indicators, to deliver packages and letters. I never let them in, because there is nothing to prove that they are what they say. But a uniform isn’t a guarantee either. Plenty of robbers or bad people show up in official uniforms, as mailmen, delivery people, and even police, and are frauds. You need to be careful even of delivery people, someone with an armload of flowers for you, you open the door, and then there’s trouble. I was lucky that these two were so transparent.

I remember a few years ago, a serial rapist in New York was wearing a full legitimate police uniform, ringing doorbells, and young women let them in, and then terrible things happened. Another was masquerading as a fireman. If you have not called for help, and are not expecting a package, delivery or serviceman, be VERY, VERY, VERY careful, and better yet, don’t open the door and let them in!!

I’m not suggesting that you become totally paranoid, hide under your bed, and keep your doors locked forever. But we all need to be wise and careful, alert, and suspicious enough to protect ourselves. Don’t just open the door to anyone, try to be as sure as you can that the person at the door is for real, and if you have any doubt at all, don’t open the door, particularly if you’re alone. You’re better off delaying or even losing a legitimate package than getting hurt, robbed, or worse. The police told me that this is a very common occurrence, and whenever you aren’t sure of the people at the door, DON’T let them in.

So please be careful!!! Take good care!!! Be Safe!!!

much love, Danielle

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7 Comments so far
  1. Gail January 26, 2015 1:51 pm

    You gave very useful and accurate advise everyone should follow. I was told by a police officer to never open the door to an officer before calling the police station to make sure an unit was dispatched. I do not open my door for anyone unless I am expecting company. It seems it is on the news every week that someone opened their front door to a stranger and now the homeowner is dead. DO NOT open your door to strangers!

    Unfortunately it is a sometimes difficult and cruel world we live, so please be careful and take care of yourself and family!!

    P.S. Keep reading Danielle Steel books for the best entertainment!!

  2. Kingsley January 30, 2015 7:39 am

    let me start with a little introduction: from west Africa- Nigeria. Steel’s first novel I read, journey, was an influence and I subsequently became addicted to her…
    I am glad finding this site, I will continue to be with her here…
    the insight above is very enlightening and helpful. written in a simple and plausible language. I beg your pardon to say something odd here: I didn’t know such things happen in your place,I thought it was only in Africa here,where hoodlums roam every street. it was what I learned first from Chase,but then,me think it was just a book something.. the first world will never do a thing like that like ‘us’ starving here.
    your book,Steel, I will continue to read, in kaleidescope, I cried. kudos to the best seller….

  3. Late Bloomer January 31, 2015 2:56 am

    It’s such an awful thing to have occurred. Luckily you were able to pick up on signs that helped to register something was wrong. Incidences like that have happened to me in the past as well and you can never be too sure. And it’s amazing that it can happen to anyone no matter their status. People are bold…or just simply ignorant. Desperation can cause people to do the most extreme things.
    Happy that you’re alright. Be well. Take care.

  4. Carol February 3, 2015 9:58 am

    Thank you Danielle, so appreciate the Heads Up…scary…this crazy
    scary world we live in now…..
    fyi..almost done reading Pegasus…loving it so much…and always love your History telling Books so much….Hope all is well.
    Carol with the Complete Collection of all your Books that I have collected thru the years…and Love having them in my Bookcase where I can see them always.

  5. Phyllis February 13, 2015 8:38 pm

    Thanks for your sincere words of warning. Tines have changed.Great advise, and thank you. Trust is not often guaranteed anymore.

    Can appreciate your words of wisdom. Remember, survivors are everywhere!!

    I still find time to start, and eventually finishba book here and there and thankbyou for recognizing the danger in the world today, no matter how romantic and fairytale your stories are.

    I just read your book with the little girl beaten by her mother daily because the father she felt loved the daughter more than her.

    It was a story that crushed my heart and soul to read about the little girls helplessness, abandonment by her father, and then his desertion. To read how so many suspected something, but never asked, never said a word, and could visibly see especially at the hospital something was just not right. Yet, no one when so many suspected what was going on came to her defense. No one for years tried anything.It had to be for me, one of your saddest stories ever.

    I thank you for it because making me and others aware in our day to day lives hopefully can help a child we suspect in a similar situation today I hope.

    Today…no one ever wants to get involved? It hit home and helped me make a career decision…to continue to fight for children, the disbled, women, the mentally impaired and infants with my MBA. These are the stories I can believe.

  6. sheila boyd March 14, 2015 10:12 pm

    Your where very smart and brave. I already new you where smart. Keep up the wonderful writing just wish our library would keep up with you. Lol

  7. cara crawford April 12, 2015 11:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing. People do need to be wise to these things because most people are quite curious and would open the door if flowers or a package arrived even if they weren’t expecting one. I agree with the threats of shutting off the gas some people would be intimidated and it’s very fortunate you knew something was quite wrong.