News Story

 

Thousand Oaks City Watch Update
3/2/2012 8:00:00 AM

 

Crime Fighters,

 

As our weather continues to remain the same, so do the ways of our enemies. Crimes of opportunity and utilization of the night to mask their offenses are the handiwork of the criminals. Why should a thief break into a locked vehicle when so many other vehicles are left unlocked' These types of thefts are occurring too frequently, yet many have not learned the lesson from the mistakes of others. Shoppers also need to be aware of more reports about distracted or inattentive victims who had property stolen from the baby seat area of shopping carts. My advice is to keep the purse on the shoulder and if the purse is set in the shopping cart make sure that it is closed'zipped and buttoned.

 

The past two months had an unusual increase in residential burglaries on the east end of the City. Residential burglaries are still on a slight increase but the Newbury Park area is primarily now being affected. Third row seats still seem to be a hot item for thieves but the newest item that is in demand is air bags. A few times both the third row seat and the airbags were stolen. Undoubtedly, the black market has an interest in car parts, as tailgates were previously the choice auto part to steal, as once were catalytic converters.

 

Dedicated to his work

Sometimes the trusted hired hand is at fault when items come-up missing at home and at other times the list of suspects seems endless. I once read that sometimes people become victims because they are hesitant to step out of the societal norms of behavior in order to prevent or stop crimes. The first two lines certainly do not apply to this story. A few contractors were working at residence while the owner was away. An unknown male subject walked-up to the residence, passed-by two contractors who were working outside and walked into the house as if he lived there. As the intruder walked into the house, another contractor was inside but this contractor challenged the stranger who responded that he was a family relative. As the determined suspect went to the master bedroom, the contactor, not being persuaded, telephoned the homeowner. Once the contractor found-out that the 'relative' was a thief, he chased the thief out of the house, down the street and into a ravine. At that point the police were called.

 

The K-9 was summoned, the thief was tracked down even after he shed his clothing throughout the ravine and the stolen jewelry was recovered in the ravine. The message of the story is to step-out from what is normal. The suspect was counting on all three contractors to believe and not challenge him because who would ever do such a brazen act' Be circumspect as it is all right to step out of the norm and challenge others. Most people are trusting and want to believe in the decency in others which segues into the next story'

 

Jackpot

I am usually inundated with phone calls or e-mails about scams and frauds and the reality of the problem is that countless methods exist to cheat the trusting victim. Each of us needs to be diligent and guarded in money transactions and purchases. The Internet is an infamous instrument that swindlers use in their convincing yet simplistic, deceptive con games.

 

In one fraud perpetrated through a website, the victim purchased an airplane via wiring money to the seller. The seller received the funds but the victim never got possession of the airplane and, of course, the seller has changed his contact information. The buyer was out 40 thousand dollars. Another person bought a trailer that never existed. The victim sent the money to a non-existent financial company and the victim ended-up out almost 3 thousand dollars. A third victim bought a vehicle for 14 thousand dollars; that vehicle never existed. A fourth victim truly felt like the luckiest person in the world. This person was contacted by the Federal Trade Commission and told that she won a multi-million dollar lottery. Somehow, Costa Rica had something to do with the lottery and the victim was told she had to first pay the taxes by sending 25 thousand dollars to Costa Rica. If that was not enough, the FBI notified her that she had not paid the full amount of taxes and if she did not pay some additional fees, the victim might be deported to Costa Rica to face criminal charges in that country. Unfortunately, the victim took the bait and other subsequent enticements. By the time law enforcement was notified, the victim was out an inconceivable $345,000.

 

What all these true accounts have in common are that all the victims wired their money to the seller. Wiring money is a cash transaction and once the money is sent there is absolutely no way to get the money back. There is no receipt from the seller and the money destination is usually out of the country. If the money is sent within the U.S., the crook generally pays someone to pick-up the money so that the crook is never identified. Many wire transfer companies know about these scams and will tell the victim that they are being duped and not to send the money. Sometimes this works but other times the victim will just go to a different business to send the money despite the warning. Some wire companies do not care as they charge a percentage for the money being sent. These crimes are difficult to investigate for many reasons. So, please think thrice before wiring any money.

 

Merchant Mugging

A traveling businessman was robbed and beaten during daylight hours in a shopping parking lot. The criminals had apparently watched the unsuspecting victim for a while before they decided to attack him. Fortunately, there were many witnesses who heard the victim cry for help and they went to his aid. Although the suspects got away, the witnesses were able to prevent additional harm to the victim. The suspects were able to flee with a substantial amount of property and any information from the public to help solve this case would be greatly appreciated.

 

Someone is watching

Last year an organized group of thieves successfully and secretly placed skimmers on ATM machines. After an on-going investigation, an arrest was made and the skimming operation stopped. Another group decided to try their luck by conducting the same type of operation. This time, however, the detectives and officers were ready to thwart the ineffectual and derisory attempt to steal the information from access cards. The two suspects surreptitiously placed the skimming device on the ATM but officers were watching and waited for the banking baddies to leave. Officers stopped the crooks as they left the ATM and the officers found much incriminating evidence within their vehicle. Although the suspects obtained information on over 90 people who used that particular ATM, none of the information was compromised. Be cautious whenever you use any ATM. Look carefully at the ATM for any illegal attachments and for any nearby video devices that will capture your PIN. These very small cameras are usually hidden in or behind false brochure stands, speakers, mirrors, planters, etc.

 

Someone was not watching

As Thousand Oaks Police officers were conducting probation searches this past weekend, one officer came across a five year-old child wandering the streets at night looking for his mother. The young lad crossed a busy intersection and thankfully was not harmed. When the officer untangled this conundrum, he learned that the mother went out for a 'quick trip' to the store and sadly left the boy, who was asleep at the time, alone. The boy awoke, could not find his mother, and he went looking for her. By the time officers contacted the seemingly cavalier mother, officers estimated that the boy was alone for about an hour. Somehow, I do no think the mother will be so indifferent about the incident when she appears in court.

 

We are sporadically catching some of the nighttime vehicle thieves but victims continue to report property loses and damages from their vehicles. Also, in a previous TOCW, I reported a spate of vandalisms to vehicles and residences. Unfortunately, the suspect(s) are still committing their crimes and we are hoping that someone will help and give us the information we need to arrest the responsible party(s).  The instrument used to commit these vandalisms was a BB gun. Please report suspicious persons and vehicles to our dispatch center at 805-654-9511 and if anyone knows who is responsible to the many vandalisms, please notify detectives at 805-494-8201 or anonymously report the information to Crime Stoppers at 800-22-TIPS.

 

Take care,

 

Jim