Captain James I. Dudley
Central Police District
Central Station: 415. 315-2400
CENTRAL DISTRICT NEWSLETTER
Beware the Scam!
There are several ways to skin a cat. There are also several ways to become a victim of a theft by scam or fraud. Recently, a business in the district was the victim of a laptop theft by means of a suspect acting as an electrician. The suspect even went so far as to dim some lights in the office that he was stealing from so that if he was caught, he’d have a credible alibi.
We have seen various variations of this. Usually an individual is a thief of opportunity. In a commercial business they will walk unheeded looking for small electronics from cell phones to Ipods to laptops. They will generally leave when confronted but will take the path of least resistance, avoiding contact with others.
Some other popular scams:
“The Bump and Lift.” It can happen almost in any crowded place, but we have received reports of the occurrence aboard MUNI. The victim will be standing aboard a crowded bus or trolley car when someone bumps into them from the front. As they react, by catching the person or shielding themselves, the second suspect will lift their wallet or purse from behind.
The “Utility Worker Burglars.” A year ago we had several incidents of this type of crime but we have been free of this for several months. I have heard of several incidents occurring in the Richmond and Taraval Districts and south of our City. Two or more men dressed in work clothes or overalls come knocking at your door saying they want to check your utility, (water, gas, phone, electricity). One suspect goes and flushes a toilet with you or switches appliances on and off while his confederates ransack closets and drawers for jewelry and cash. Some of the imposters go as far as wearing hard hats, reflective vests and drive a van or truck. Legitimate utility workers carry identification and will present it when requested.
“3 Card Monty” This well organized scam usually targets tourists. It is an old con game where the suspect does a card trick or uses three bottle tops to slide around on a board or table with a small red ball beneath one of them. They will let you win cash from them but insist you play until you start to place higher wagers. The game is impossible to win. The suspect hides the ball with his palm and thumbs and lifts the foam ball from all three tops. They usually work with a “shill” or “plant” in the audience who will walk away with big winnings to raise the confidence of onlookers. They also use other confederates in the audience and up the street to act as look out for police.
The “Package That Fell Off the Truck.” (wink, wink). I have seen individuals go into a postal outlet and obtain a free mailing package. They will then put a brick or catalog inside the mailer, seal it, and place an ad for a laptop inside the plastic viewing label. They will then approach individuals in a bar or on the street and say they have a laptop that “fell into their hands.” Believe it or not, people will buy the package for $20-$100 dollars thinking that they are getting a great deal.
There are many other scams, too numerous to post. Often they are simple and just exaggerated panhandling schemes. People will go to a home, knock on the door and say they need cash for gas, a pregnant wife, a bus ticket, you name it.
Most of the something for nothing scams offer the victim a large amount of cash if they put up a smaller amount of their own as collateral. Needless to say, the promised cash never appears and the victim is out of their collateral.
For additional tips on crime prevention strategies, check out the SAFE website at: www.sfsafe.org. To have a safety presentation at your community meeting or to schedule an appointment with a commercial or home safety consultant, call SAFE at 553-1984.
Friday May 30, 2008:
Felony arrests made 0
Misdemeanor arrests made 4
Drunk related arrests made 3
Moving citations 40
Parking citations issued 19
Towed vehicles 10
Saturday May 31, 2008:
Felony arrests 0
Misdemeanor arrests made 0
Drunk related arrests made 3
Moving citations 24
Parking citations issued 9
Towed vehicles 10
Traffic Company and STOP Enforcement: 36 moving violations, 5 related towed vehicles.
Crimes of Note
Speaking of Scams; on 6/4/08 at 8:35 PM, a woman employee of a restaurant on Geary Street was seen swiping a customer’s credit card on a small hand held device. Security saw the act and detained the woman. It was determined that she was using a credit card reader that records numbers and information off credit cards. Officers Dianne Khuu and Officer Kevin Worrell booked the woman for three felony counts and booked the device as evidence.
6/3/08 at 1 PM, Post and Market Streets. Officer Mary Godfrey responded to a call of a fight in the street. When she arrived she met with a Sheriff’s Lieutenant who assisted several people subdue an individual who attacked a security guard after being asked to leave. The individual, a 50 year old male, was known by security from a recent incident when he punched a passer-by woman in the face. When he was asked to leave, he punched the guard in the face and fought with others. Those assisting ranged from the Sheriff, a DPT worker and a bicycle messenger. One suffered a cut lip and others sustained cuts and bruises. Officer Godfrey heard the suspect shouting racial and sexual epithets. He was booked for various charges.
On 6/4/08 at 5:49 PM, Officer Paul Doherty detained 4 individuals on the 600 block of Green Street for throwing beer bottles at buildings, cars and people. Two of the drunk suspects were arrested.
6/4/08 11 PM- 0100 hours, Polk and Sutter and Pine and Larkin. Plainclothes Officers Rene Nielsen and Matt Sullivan arrested a 19 year old SF woman for prostitution and another 22 year old from Oakland for the same offense.