The string of residential burglaries that plagued San Marino a few years back has subsided, according to Chief of Police Tim Harrigan, who referenced crime statistics detailing a 10% decrease for those particular crimes in the first half of 2013.
Unfortunately, a rise in identity theft has kept the in-boxes of local investigators filled.
“Probably not a week goes by that we don’t take a couple identity theft cases,” said Harrigan. “It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t know someone in their circle who has had their identity breached. San Marino is a prime target for this type of crime. There is a wide, demographic range of potential victim and this is an affluent community. We also have a significant portion of our community who are retired, and their accounts and reserves can be drained quickly.”
Harrigan encourages all residents to be cautious when using any on-line or over the telephone service which asks for personal information.
“Just google yourself and you can find all sorts of information,” said Harrigan. “Criminals have links to individuals who might have access to this data and we all need to be cautious. There are companies who provide identity protection for you and that might be a smart decision.”
A simple solution?
“Invest in a shredder,” said the chief. “One of the easiest ways for thieves to get your personal information is by going through your trash.”
Recent police activity reports have been rife with incidents of mail and package theft, which are also prevalent.
“We frequently are asked to investigate incidents where packages left on a front porch when residents are not home have been stolen,” said Harrigan. “If you have the ability to have a package delivered to an office address, we encourage you to do so. You can also contact a parcel company and try to arrange for a package to be delivered on a certain date or arrange to have a signature requirement.”
Harrigan explained that these thefts “are not very sophisticated.”
“These are crimes of opportunity,” he said. “They don’t have an inside person at the delivery company. A lot of the items stolen are often sundry items. Our sense is that criminals might follow a delivery truck and come back if they see the package is not immediately taken in.”
The Chief encouraged continued vigilance against deception burglaries, whereby a resident opens the door to someone claiming to be from a utility company who asks to be accompanied to the back yard for a maintenance issue. When the resident leaves, a second party enters the unlocked door and pilfers the location. The perpetrators typically produce credentials and wear authentic-looking gear.
“Be leery of anyone who comes to your door,” said Harrigan. “You are not required to open your door to anyone and you have every right to deny access to your back yard. They will typically say something like ‘my boots are dirty, let’s walk around back.’ The second party will wait until you are drawn to the back yard and enter the home. It’s an easy crime. Please call the San Marino Police Department if you have any questions regarding someone who is trying to access your property.”
Summer is also prime time for a newer ruse. A late-night phone caller says “your grandson is traveling abroad and needs $10,000 immediately or else…”
“This works much more often than one might think,” said Harrigan. “Well-intentioned people don’t want to see anything happen to family members. Do a thorough check before you authorize the transfer of funds.”
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