Walt Vanatta: Police beat for December

Walt Vanatta, Police Beat

Walt Vanatta's "Police Beat" column appears monthly in the Craig Daily Press.

Below is a summary of my monthly report to the Craig City Council regarding Police Department activity for November.

Crime summary

The Police Department responded to 1,067 requests for service in December and Community Service responded to 178 requests for service.

Crime of the month

As 2008 was winding down, it became apparent that some people were not dropping old habits. Driving under the influence, other driving infractions, vandalisms and domestic violence calls remained on the radar as 2009 approached. However, it was a rather quiet New Year's Eve.

A car dealership was burglarized and the thief took a variety of car keys, apparently to give himself a choice of cars to steal. He found one and went off into the snowy night. The case is under investigation.

In another dealership incident, more than $2,000 in tires were vandalized. The on-scene investigation led to significant evidence and the identity of a possible suspect. The investigation is on-going, and an arrest is anticipated.

More senseless damage occurred as a result of windows being shot with BB guns. A local bank had damage in excess of $3,500. Officers were able to track shoe and bicycle tire impressions in the fresh snow (that deserves a DUH!) which resulted in the arrest of a 23-year-old male who just happened to have a BB gun in his jacket pocket when he came out of an apartment to a fond greeting by officers (that deserves DUH No. 2).

A local business received an e-mail request to buy some merchandise in excess of $5,000. They wished to charge the items on a credit card and have them shipped to England at a cost of $2,300. This is where the red flags should go up for any merchant receiving such requests. There also was a request for some funds, via check, to be sent to "an office in Ghana." Now the red flag should be accompanied by a marching band. Final result, the local merchant did not lose any money, however a lady from Nevada did make contact to say that her credit card had more than $5,000 in fraud charges on it. Note: This scam is being used on a large scale through Internet contacts.

Two males, ages 17 and 19, were observed around the fenced storage area of a local department store. They were apparently removing merchandise over and through the fencing, avoiding the normal checkout method that most of us use. The activity drew the curiosity of witnesses who called the police department. The two were seen leaving the area and descriptions of the vehicle and suspects were obtained. Officers arriving to investigate were told by store employees that they found more than $1,500 in merchandise that included sporting goods, clothing, auto accessories and electronics that were conveniently relocated to the area where the two males were seen. Further investigation and information from witnesses led to the location of the vehicle that was seen during this incident and to the arrest of the two suspects, plus recovery of other items suspected to be stolen.

Code enforcement:

Code Enforcement Officer Becky Otis and Community Service Officer Connie Davis handled the following calls during the month of December:

• Spoke to the owners and red tagged six abandoned vehicles. Four vehicles were towed.

• No weed complaints.

• No code violations.

• One junk/trash violation. The property owner was spoken to, and the property was brought into compliance.

Training:

• All personnel participated in Driven to Distraction training in December.

• On Dec. 14, all officers attended DUI refresher training at the Public Safety Center in Craig.

• On Dec. 16, officers Tony Gianinetti and Tony Fandel, corporal Travis Young and sergeant Brian Soper attended officer survivor training in Steamboat Springs.

Upcoming events:

The sergeant promotional process will take place in January to fill the position vacated by the resignation of Dusty Schulze.

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