Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Scams Reminder from the Cohoes Police Department

From the Cohoes Police Department:

Important Spring Time Safety Reminder from the Cohoes Police Department:
The Cohoes Police would like to warn citizens that with the coming of spring, communities tend to experience two common types of scams; gypsies hit the area and black top scam artists.  Traditionally, the targets are upper middle class residential areas that have a larger population of elderly residents.  More often than not, the con artist will target females.

Gypsy Scam:  The typical gypsy scam involves two females with a male driver in close proximity to the females.  Gypsies will hang around banks or businesses, as well as following meals on wheels deliveries, looking for an easy target.  Gypsies will follow targets home.  Once a victim is selected, the gypsies will use one of the following ruses to get inside a house-feigning illness, asking for a drink of water, pretending to have a package to deliver to a neighbor, asking for paper to leave a note for a neighbor, asking if the house is for sale, selling flowers or candy, or looking for a lost cat or dog, etc.  Once a homeowner is engaged in conversation and has been successfully distracted, the other female enters the house looking for currency, jewelry, or other valuables.  They are careful not to disturb anything so that many times the victim does not even know that anything has been taken.  If the gypsies get into your home, get out right away and go to a neighbor for help and call 911.

Blacktop Scam:  One of the most common scams in our area every year is the black topping of driveways.  The common approach is a black topper going door to door and telling people that they have extra black top left over and will black top the homeowner’s driveway for a good price using substandard materials.  Once the job has been completed, the scam artist will come up with different reasons for increasing the price.  For example: the original price did not include labor or they had to use more material than what was anticipated, etc.  Typically, there is an agreement that the black topper will seal the driveway too, but in fact, only applies another light coat of the same material used to do the initial job.  It is best not to have work done immediately.  Get the business name and phone number, and a written estimate.  Then, contact the Better Business Bureau for references or complaints regarding the blacktop business.

Anyone going door to door must have a valid vendor license issued by the City Clerk.  Citizens are urged to call the City Clerk or the Police Department to verify the license is valid.

If you feel you have been approached by, or a victim of a scam, call the Cohoes Police Department, 237-5333.  Note any physical descriptions of individuals, uncommon speech patterns, clothing, content of conversation, direction of travel when they leave.  If operating a vehicle, a description of the vehicle, color, make, model, plate #, etc.

Citizens should never open their door to anyone claiming to be selling a product or looking for directions.  DO NOT OPEN your door to anyone you do not know.  The citizen should always, immediately contact their Police Department to make them aware of any situations like this.  The City of Cohoes also maintains a list of residents that do not want solicitors or vendors to come to their homes.  To have your address added to this list call the City Clerk at 233-2140.  To stop solicitors and vendors from entering your property you can also post a sign on your property stating “Solicitors/Vendors Prohibited” “Do Not Enter.”  We recommend that you have your name on the City Clerk’s list and to post signage on your property.  Any solicitor or vendor that violates either is subject to arrest and police should be called immediately. 

With the nice weather approaching, citizens should be cognizant of some basic security for their home and vehicles.  Always leave your doors locked, even if going on short trips to the store or working in the yard.  Always lock your vehicle, even if it is in your driveway.  If you have a tool or garden shed, any unattached garage on your property with valuables, it should be locked when not in use. 

Surveillance camera prices are now very affordable and it aids the police if a crime does occur on ones property.  The video certainly will aid the apprehension of the subjects and furthermore it is a deterrent to many criminals.

Burglars, thieves generally look for the easiest targets and with the simple security tips, they usually move on to places and properties that are less secure.

The City of Cohoes Police Department has a Crime and Drug Tip Hotline.  All calls are confidential and messages can be left anonymously.  The number is 233-2161. This line is not monitored especially nights and weekends so emergency calls should be made directly  to 911 immediately.

All Vendors MUST HAVE A VALID VENDORS PERMIT issued by the Cohoes City Clerk.  If they do not everyone is urged to call 911 to report it immediately.   

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