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Crime of the Week: Warm Weather Brings Out Scam Artists

Scam season is underway. Mount Pleasant Police want residents to be careful and protect themselves - including their identities.

Now that spring has more or less sprung, Mount Pleasant Police want to warn residents to beware of door-to-door scam artists.

Lt. Scott Geyer with the MPPD said warmer weather brings an uptick in reports of fake utility workers trying to get into homes and what he called fly-by-night home improvement people.

"The utility scam is the big one," he said. "Two people will come to someone's home and say they need to check for a circuit breaker. One person distracts the homeowner while the second person rifles around in the bedroom for valuables like jewelry."

Luckily, Geyer added, there haven't been any reports of violence, but the potential is there.

"We've received several reports already this year," he said. "We just want people to be alert and be careful."

Geyer named several other scams residents should know:

  • Handyman offers, for example, to reseal someone's driveway but the price is too high and the materials are inferior;
  • Callers who say the homeowner won an outrageous sum of money if only they first send money; and
  • A "relative" is in jail or hurt or stranded and needs money; and
  • Unsolicited home improvement estimates.

To protect themselves, Geyer said residents should remember a few tips:

  • Never conduct business by phone unless initiated by the homeowner;
  • Utility workers will never come to a home unless requested by the customer. Legitimate utility representatives will have a uniform, ID and a company truck;
  • Never release any bank account or credit card information over the phone. Say "I don't release that information to someone who calls my residence;"
  • Don't let mail linger in the mail box;
  • Keep garage doors closed.

Basically, Geyer said he wants residents to be alert and if they feel like a situation is suspicious, to call the police. Following a trail for phone scams is more difficult, Geyer admitted, it's still good to start a report or series of reports. When someone actually knocks on the door, he wants residents to call police immediately.

"The sooner someone calls, the more they remember about the person who was just at their door," he said. "We also urge homeowners to look around for a vehicle and provide a description if possible."

If residents feel targeted by either telephone scams, fake utility personnel or unsolicited home improvement work and/or estimates, they can call the Mount Pleasant Police aat (262) 884-0454. Citizens can also leave anonymous tips with Crime Stoppers of Racine County at (262) 636-9330, via email through the website www.racine.crimestoppersweb.com or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) and typing in RACS with your text message. Tips leading to arrest could mean a reward.

NCPHIF April 30, 2012 at 05:32 PM
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