by: Tina Terry Updated:
IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - There is a new warning about door-to-door handymen across the Charlotte area.
Lincoln County investigators said a group known as Irish Travelers is taking thousands of dollars from homeowners and doing shoddy home repairs.
Eyewitness News reporter Tina Terry found out how they operate and spoke with one man accused of ripping off people.
"They do ceiling ceilings and pavement. Other times they've tried to do roofs," said Lt. Tim Johnson.
He said what sets Irish Travelers apart from other traveling handymen is that they're based out of a community in North Augusta, South Carolina.
He said some of the workers are known for charging high prices for low-quality work while others have pulled off burglary scams.
Johnson’s office has taken about a dozen complaints this year.
"A lot of times they'll hit the elderly,” he said. "Anybody they can get to fall for their schemes."
Joe Livingston with South Carolina's Law Enforcement Division has been watching Irish Travelers for decades.
He said some do good work, while others have pulled off scams across North and South Carolina.
Eyewitness News checked with local law enforcement officials and found officers in Gaston, Rowan, Lincoln, Iredell and Cabarrus counties have had issues with Irish Travelers.
Court documents show a Gaston County court just issued an arrest warrant for 22-year-old Edward O’Hara.
Officers said he's an Irish Traveler who agreed to paint a Gaston County woman's house in 2010 but the homeowner claimed O’Hara and a partner stole electronics from her.
Court documents said he stole 19 gallons of paint for his own use.
Eventually, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and was ordered to pay $1,100, which officials said he never paid.
O’Hara said his attorney had recently contacted the court to take care of the matter but he wouldn't comment.
Investigators said they'll be on the lookout for him if he knocks on more doors.
In the meantime, they said homeowners should be careful who they hire.
Officers said if approached by any traveling contractor, people should make sure they're a reputable business before letting them in the home and never pay large amounts of money in advance.
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