By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Post-summer hiatus is over for the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council. Here’s what happened at WSCPC’s meeting Tuesday at the Southwest Precinct:
POLICE UPDATES: Precinct Commander Capt. Pierre Davis and Operations Commander Lt. Steve Strand were there. Capt. Davis said “summer was very good for us – fairly quiet – we had a big game plan going into it – with emphasis patrols … in South Park and on Alki. It was fruitful.” That was with the help of added resources including help from the Traffic Unit. “They put a dent in a lot of the activity early on. … We’re hoping to resurrect that again next year.”
Community input is key to making extra resources possible, he stressed. If you don’t report crimes/concerns, they can’t do anything about it, much less push for extra resources from citywide units. “Please …let us know what in the heck’s going on.”
That also can lead to community partnership, too; Capt. Davis said Westwood Village has a Business Block Watch going (following the trailblazing one in The Junction).
The commander said stats show crime overall is down nine percent in West Seattle/South Park. They’re working on the plan for the rest of the year; they continue to focus on “area saturation” and track repeat offenders post-jail. They also track “repeat call locations” – where they have “a lot of calls.” Street robberies are down since the spike earlier in the year. However, they’re still sorting out data analysis with the new report-writing system implemented earlier this year.
A South Delridge resident said they’re continuing to have a problem with a repeat car prowler who is seen frequently on video trying car doors. Capt. Davis said the suspect’s been arrested “but is not held for any length of time.”
Staffing-wise, the precinct is “holding its own,” but the same attrition factors – including retirement – are affecting this precinct as well as others, Capt. Davis said.
(Editor’s note: Here’s a doc about police staffing, from the agenda for a City Council meeting this week. The last page of that doc shows the SW Precinct has 75 staffers, by far the lowest.)
IDENTITY THEFT: Elena Huizar from the state Attorney General’s Office opened by talking about consumer protection actions taken by the AG’s Office – including numerous lawsuits against corporations. Their actions include antitrust, which doesn’t always involve taking on megacorporations: She mentioned a collusion of barber shops in a city to fix prices. That was antitrust, and, she said, the AG’s Office broke it up. The office also has divisions focusing on fraud, environmental protection, utilities, civil rights, and more.
An attendee asked about suing local government. Huizar said the jurisdiction that the AG’s office has and doesn’t have in that case tends to be focused more on whether governments are following public-records access and open-meeting laws.
Consumer protection also includes the “lemon law,” and she went over that. “If you have to take (a new car) to a mechanic more than three times, it may be a lemon.” Then there’s the Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program and the Consumer Resource Center, which takes calls “all day long” about problems with businesses. It received more than 19,000 calls last year and more than 18,000 written calls, resulting she said more than $9,000,000 brought back to consumers.
While the AG’s office doesn’t have prosecution authority over identity theft – local police do – they do offer advice on protecting yourself. Huizar said she had been a victim of mail theft – someone stole her W-2 – that could have led to mail theft.
Other types of identity theft besides the obvious ones — tax prep, child, medical (“where they pose as you to get services”)
Clues to watch for:
Unexplainable bank account withdrawals
Missing bills or other mail
Merchants refuse your checks
Debt collector calls regarding mystery debts
Unfamiliar accounts o charges on your credit card
Medical bills for services you didn’t use
Rejection of medical claims
Health plan won’t cover
Notice of information compromised by a data breach
She urges people to protect their PII – Personally Identifiable Information – Social Security #, driver license #, etc.
More advice: Run credit reports during the year. Ask how and why your SSN will be used. Don’t carry more info than needed. Update the operating system and security software on all devices. Wipe devices before disposing of them. Use strong passwords. Don’t open unexpected emails. Don’t respond to email that APPEARS to be from bank, IRS, utilities (or texts either). Look up the real phone number and call it. Stay away from shady websites/unfamiliar links. Collect your mail daily. Pay attention to you billing cycles. Review account statements monthly. Shred documents to prevent dumpster diving. Remove yourself from contact lists.
If any of that PII is lost, contact the corresponding agencies to let them know; contact the company where fraud occurred; report to FTC; and FILE A POLICE REPORT.
Also advisable so you can watch for possible ID theft – set “fraud alerts.” Huizar said “credit monitoring” is not enough, but be sure alerts and monitoring cover all three credit bureaus.
More helpful links:
The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets third Tuesdays most months, 7 pm at the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster), so the next meeting will be October 15th.