Detective gives fraud prevention presentation

LEWISTOWN – A boroughwide neighborhood Community Watch meeting was held Wednesday at the Rec Park Community Center with special guest Detective Chuck Miller, from the Lewistown Police Department.

All three Community Watch groups from Lewistown were in attendance at the meeting.

The meeting started with an introduction from LPD Chief Bill Herkert about what local law enforcement has been doing. Herkert noticed a lot of complaints about cars driving too fast in downtown Lewistown.

He said the department has been testing out a new device that lays on the road and gathers data such as speed, time of day and type of vehicle that passed over it.

Herkert said the device was used on South Main Street and during the span of four hours 856 vehicles drove over the device. He said 48 percent of vehicles were traveling at a speed of 25 to 30 miles per hour. The speed limit on South Main Street is 25 miles per hour.

Out of the 856 vehicles that passed over the device, only 54 vehicles were going in excess of 35 miles per hour, Herkert said.

“Putting this out there and recording the data, we will know best where to put our resources, our officers.” Herkert said.

Community Service Officer Steve Knudson spoke about the history of Block Watch groups. He said Block Watch is an effort to bring citizens and law enforcement together to create safer neighborhoods.

Knudson said police officers cannot be everywhere so it’s important to have Neighborhood Watch Programs.

“I feel a valuable asset to the Watch Program is that it fosters a stronger relationship between neighbors and with the police department.” Knudson said.

LPD Detective Chuck Miller updated the Community Watch members on how not to become a victim of scams. He admitted that he had actually been contacted on a personal phone by someone who was trying to get information out of him such as credit card numbers and his address.

He said the department is seeing a rise in the amount of fraudulent activity over the Internet by those selling items using a classified ad or Craigslist. The victim will have goods or services for sale and will be contacted by someone saying they want to buy the item or contract the service, and they will send a check through the mail.

Miller said usually on the day the check is received, the buyer will call and say they need to back out. Next, they will say for the seller’s trouble, they will let them keep a few hundred dollars. Miller said once the check is deposited in a checking account and the money is sent back, the bank will notice the fraud check and the seller will be out the money.

Miller also talked about the skimming devices that have been seen more frequently in larger cities. Skimming devices are most commonly placed in gas stations, movie rental kiosks or ATMs and steal credit card information.

He said the devices have not been seen in Lewistown yet but have been found in areas as close as State College.