Police Warn Shoppers Of Holiday Cons And Thievery
By Charles Rogers
The holiday shopping season is coming to an end, with Christmas itself just five days away. According to the NYPD and officials at the 69th Precinct, the riffraff, pickpockets and con-persons who prey on unsuspecting shoppers and others are on the prowl.
The con games have already started, according to local detectives, who said one of those classics was perpetrated in the local area recently.
According to Fraud Squad officials, a Canarsie woman and another woman both apparently spied a paper bag full of money lying on Rockaway Parkway between Conklin Avenue and Glenwood Road on an afternoon last week. The con came to fruition when the victim, a woman in her early 20s, said she saw the bag the same time as the other woman and they agreed to split the contents — said to be a few thousand dollars in cash — with her fellow finder.
"Of course, following the pattern, the second woman met with a confederate at the same time," said the NYPD official, "and the confederate agreed to be an ‘arbitrator’ and hold the money while both the original ‘finders’ came up with up-front security cash to solidify the deal."
Usually in con games such as this, the person being conned is asked to go to the bank and draw cash as "security" but, since the victim did not have a bank account locally, the con-person and "arbitrator" both accompanied her to her home and agreed to take jewelry instead. As soon as the arbitrator had the jewelry in her hand, she said she would check with a neighborhood lawyer as to the legality of the transaction.
"Of course, there was no legality, no transaction and no lawyer," said the Fraud Squad agent. "Both the finder and arbitrator have not been seen again, except maybe by another victim."
Meanwhile, officials from Brooklyn Patrol Borough South, commanded by Assistant Chief Joseph Fox, passed on the following tips to holiday shoppers:
1. Don’t carry around large sums of cash. If you must, divide the cash between your purse, pockets and wallet.
2. Don’t carry excess credit cards. Carry only those cards you think you’ll need for the day.
3. Don’t place packages on the rear seat of your car and leave them unattended. Place all packages in the trunk and be sure it is locked.
4. Don’t carry your purse by the handle or place your arm through the strap and let the pocketbook dangle. Place one end of the purse in the palm of your hand and the other in the bend of the elbow. Draw it close to the body.
5. Don’t place your wallet in your rear or front pants pocket. It’s better to secure it in your breast pocket.
6. When shopping in local malls or department stores, be alert to pickpockets or purse snatchers. "Daydreaming should be criticized," say NYPD officials. "It’s being alert that counts."