Will Long-Distance Thieves Dip Into Your Small Business’s Bank Account?

Small Business Owners:  I read an interesting article about dangers of having your computer compromised and how criminals in China are creating fraudulent wire transfers to steal millions of dollars from U.S. companies.

It is vital to separate the computer you do your banking on from any other computer in your business.  In the modern world, we all surf the Internet and can come across viruses, trojan horses and other malware.

See the article for more on how to prevent what could be a catastrophe for your business.

Fraudulent Wire Transfers to China

Share your thoughts, and Stay Safe

Sgt. Mitchell

Does Sharing Your Vacation Plans on the Internet Make you Burglar-Bait?

In May 2009 an Arizona man’s home was burglarized while he was on vacation. He suspects his updates to 2,000 followers on social media may have tipped off a burglar. In August 2010, vacation posts on Facebook were blamed for at least one burglary in Pennsylvania — possibly through posts from residents’ children. This past November, a Florida man was the victim of a burglary while away and wondered if his posts and photos on Facebook were to blame.

We really can’t know if these burglaries were due to social media, were completely random or if there were other possibilities. For example, did newspapers pile up outside the houses? Did they have a neighbor taking flyers off their front door each day? Did the residents broadcast their plans in other ways which may have tipped someone off? Had there been other burglaries in the area at homes where people were not on vacation and these were coincidence?

I once saw an instance where the neighbors of a couple who had taken a taxi to the airport saw the taxi driver return shortly after to burglarize the house. So anything can happen and probably has somewhere in the country.

It may not be possible to know why a particular burglary has occurred. But there are simple things you can do to avoid being a victim. To start, have someone pick up mail & papers and watch your house, use good locks and an alarm system, cut back shrubbery, use timers on lights.

Crime Prevention Tip: Take a walk around your block while trying to think like a burglar. Look for houses where you wouldn’t be seen if you kicked the front door in; houses that seem to advertise big-ticket items to steal; garage doors that are open; houses with flyers on the door or newspapers out front. Imagine trying to break into a house and how you would want to get in and out quickly. Is there a dog that you would be afraid of? Is there an alarm sign so you know the cops will be on their way?

Now look at your house. How does it compare? Do you have deadbolts on the doors and are they always locked? Are your windows secure? Is there an alarm? Would neighbors notice – and call – of there was a strange car in your driveway?

(Two good places for more-thorough lists are at Tempe PD and the National Crime Prevention Council)

The classic burglar needs to break into houses and steal items they can sell for drugs. This is due to heroin and other addictions. However, they are fundamentally lazy; so if there are obstacles at your house they will move on. These obstacles can be grouped as: hard to get into, hard to hide, hard to get away and alarms. Movie burglars are very savvy (except in Home Alone) and are not defeated by any “target hardening” measures. Real burglars are not sophisticated, dedicated or suave. They take the path of least resistance. If there is a dog or alarm, deadbolts and clear sight lines, then they will move on to another house. And real burglars probably aren’t on your Friends lists.

So will you be burglar bait if you tweet about a vacation or post it on Facebook? Probably not, as long as you don’t Friend addicts and burglars.

Share your thoughts and Stay safe,

Sgt. Mitchell

A tip of the LAPD Class A hat to David Bickford, of PhxRailFood and Twitter’s @ext2lef, for suggesting today’s topic.

Helping Call-takers and Dispatchers Help You

What do you need when you call the police? What’s happening — Is it an emergency? Is it suspicious activity? Do you need to report a crime?

Whether you’re calling 911 or a non-emergency number, think about what information may be helpful; and stay on the line until the call-taker says she or he has enough information. You would be surprised at the number of times callers only say, “I need an officer,” or, think that, “My car was broken into,” is all that’s needed. But the communication center needs more.

In particular, when you call a non-emergency number, the phone system doesn’t show where you are. And if you’re cut off, or if an officer has a question later, your phone number is a mystery until you give it to the call-taker.

Two things people don’t know right off are that the call-taker isn’t wasting time, and that (unlike 800 numbers for OVC) officers aren’t always “Standing By” available for your call.

Let’s take the first concern: In an emergency, the call-takers are able to start officers heading your way even as they ask you questions. Callers can naturally feel panicky though since it can seem like help is not on the way while lot’s of questions are asked.

On the second concern: Police Departments have limited resources. And while they can plan in general for busy times (Friday night anyone?) they can’t predict specific needs at specific times.

So, calls have to be prioritized. That is, available officers will be sent immediately to life-threatening incidents like a fight with a knife, or a robbery; and other officers will stop what they are doing to respond. In contrast, let’s take a theft call where you aren’t sure when the item was taken and there is no information about who took it – this will get answered when the Dispatcher has an officer available and nearby. It may take a while if the city is real busy.

Getting back to that fight call, call-takers and dispatchers need to know: is it mostly pushing and shoving? Is someone armed with a weapon or a dangerous item? Is it two or three people against one? Can you still see it or did you have to leave before you could call? What do the people look like? All these facts and more help decide if officers need to be taken off of other matters to respond, how many officers are needed, if Paramedics may be needed, who the officers should be looking for as they arrive and many other considerations.

Even on a non-violent call, such as someone who was looking over your neighbor’s fence, communication employees and officers need the best information you can give them. For example, in the time you are calling and that a nearby officer is getting to your street, the suspicious person may have already walked out onto an arterial street or over to a shopping center. If the officer doesn’t know just who to look for (and there are usually too many people matching the description of “a man in a tshirt and jeans”) then they won’t find him. But, with a clear description of the activity and the person, officers can not only spot the person, the courts allow officers to stop and question him even if he has left the area.

So, when you are going to call the Police, please take a moment to note a few facts such as age, ethnicity, height/build and clothing colors that might not normally stick with you. And stay on the line to answer all the call-taker’s questions. You’ll make a big difference!

For more, see:

Calling the Police at Tempe PD’s web site
911 FAQ’s from ASU Police
911 Emergency Tips from Mesa PD
Calling 911 from Phoenix Police

Tempe PD Use of Force Media Training

Some great articles in the media recently about use of force training in valley police departments.