In response to a recent case where a North Carolina homeowner was burglarized by someone he hired to cut down trees in his backyard, the state’s Attorney General is warning residents about the dangers of hiring contractors and handymen.
According to a report from WNCT-TV, a CBS-affiliated television station located in Greenville, North Carolina, the case involves a homeowner in the town of Cary who hired a tree service company in March to do some tree work in his backyard. Several months later, the house was burglarized, with the thief making off with valuables and “sensitive documents.” When police arrested a suspect in connection with the murder, the homeowner discovered that the suspect was employed by the same tree service company he had hired in March.
When asked about the case, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said that homeowners should be “suspicious” and “self-protective” when hiring contractors, service companies, or handymen to work on their houses. Stein noted that, even if you know the contractor or business proprietor, you may not know the employees they will bring to your home.
Of course, there are precautions that homeowners can take to protect themselves against risks. Stein recommended always being home when a contractor or handyman is doing work on your house. If a worker thinks someone is watching, they might be less likely to steal something or case the home for a later burglary.
A bigger and more important strategy is background screening. Stein is correct that consumers should be suspicious when hiring people to work on their home. While many of these professionals are friendly, trustworthy, and safe, others might have criminal records or other red flags that indicate a potential risk. Conducting a background check on a contractor or handyman can go a long way toward helping homeowners establish trust and peace of mind in these business relationships.
If you are contracting a company for a project, one of the first things you should ask is whether that company runs background checks on its employees. You want to make sure that the people who are going to be on your property—or even in your house—have been thoroughly vetted. If you are hiring a standalone handyman or contractor, the process is a bit more complicated. You can’t run a background check on someone you will be hiring or “employing” without consent. So, if you are thinking about doing some sort of criminal history search on your contractor before you hire them, make sure you get written permission first.
Another smart strategy is to ask the person for references or read online reviews about their business. If a contractor or handyman can point to a track record of satisfied customers, there is a good chance you can trust that person. Again, make sure you ask whether there will be other workers on your property and to request background checks if the answer is yes.