Gas pump skimmers are a common method crooks use to steal your identity. Here are a few tips to help you as a consumer to avoid or reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a skimmer scam.
First look at the overall condition of the gas pump. Is there anything attached to it that appears out of place? Is there more than one card reader? Any visible wires on the outside of the machine? Is there tape holding objects on the pump?
If you notice anything attached to the outside of the pump that appears out of place or brand new in appearance compared to the pump itself, it could be a skimmer or camera. Some externally placed skimmers will allow the transaction when placed over or near the pump card reader, but will also steal your card information at the same time.
If possible avoid gas pumps that are out of view of the store employee. These pumps could be more easily compromised with a skimmer device since employees will not be able to see activity around the pump. Use the pumps that are within view of the employee these may have a reduced risk of being compromised.
Check to see if the pump has a security seal placed on the access door. If this seal is broken or gone, move on to another pump if possible. It could mean that the pump has been compromised. If the seal is missing or broken notify the employee immediately. If you have to use a pump with a broken seal, pay with cash or card inside and notify the employee about the condition of the gas pump.
Use a credit card instead of a debit card if possible. Many credit cards offer better protection against most types of fraud. Debit cards immediately withdraw money from your account. If you have to use a debit card, run it as a credit card so you don’t have to enter a PIN.
Bluetooth Skimmers – More advanced skimmers are blue-tooth capable so the crook will not even have to come and get it! They will simply park nearby and access the blue tooth skimmer through mobile devices such as laptops or smart phones. Others that are externally attached may have to be retrieved by the crook at some point in time.
Suspicious People – If you see people hanging around gas pumps or pretending to be maintenance workers, inform the employees or call the police. It could be nothing or it could be the criminal retrieving stolen information.
Credit/Debit Cards – Finally, check your credit/debit cards or gas card statements regularly for any irregularities or unusual charges. Notify the police and credit card company as soon as possible for the fraudulent charges to protect yourself and your credit.
On Monday, December 4th, at approximately 11:30 am officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department were dispatched to the 2100 block of Joline in reference to a burglary in progress. Upon arrival officers located the victim who was on the front porch arguing with the suspect, 40 year old Angela Everman.
The victim told officers that when they came home they discovered Everman naked inside their residence. The victim stated that Everman had turned on the gas to the stove and began eating the victim’s food to include cake, a salad, popcorn, a cookie and drank a Pepsi.
Everman spoke with officers and advised them that she broke a window to get into the apartment. She said once inside she washed her hair and ate some cake, tomatoes, and lettuce. She said the food was already inside the apartment when she entered and she did not pay for it. She said she had been at the apartment for about two hours but she did not have permission to be inside. Everman went on to tell officers that she chose the apartment because she remembered it from a long time ago and she knew the lay out.
Officers were able to see signs of forced entry into the residence by way of a window.
Everman was arrested and transported to the Wichita County jail without incident where she was charged with burglary of a habitation.
On Saturday, December 2, at approximately 9:45 pm officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department were dispatched to the 1000 block of Covington in reference to a burglary of a habitation. The victim stated that a black male suspect wearing a camouflaged shirt walked into their home and just began picking things up and then walked back out.
When officers arrived they located 37 year old Shawn Bonner in the 1000 block of Covington. Bonner was wearing a pair of black house shoes and he was in possession of a large bag of cookies and a book of checks. The victim advised that the checks, house shoes and bag of cookies all came from his residence. The victim advised that Bonner did not have consent to enter his home and take his property.
Bonner was arrested and transported to the Wichita County jail without incident where he was charged with burglary of a habitation.
With the mornings getting colder the Wichita Falls Police Department would like to remind drivers not to leave their cars running and unattended. Not only does this create a perfect opportunity for someone to steal your vehicle, but in most cases it is illegal.
There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of losing your vehicle or belongings to an opportunistic thief:
- STAY WITH THE CAR. It’s better to be cold for a few minutes in your car while it warms up than to be left in the cold while the thief drives it away.
- LOCK THE DOORS. If unattended this will decrease the opportunity for the criminal to strike.
- TAKE YOUR KEYS. Don’t hide your keys on or in the vehicle, thieves know where to look.
- HIDE YOUR BELONGINGS. If leaving property in the vehicle this will also help reduce the risk of a burglary or vehicle theft.
On Monday, November 27th, at approximately 4:00 pm officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department were dispatched to the 1800 block of Polk in reference to a possible disturbance.
While in route to the call officers were waved down at the intersection of Avenue H and Monroe Street in reference to a 30 year old white male on the ground with a large wound to the top of his head. The victim was having difficulty speaking but advised police that he had been assaulted by unknown suspects. Medical personnel responded to the location and transported the victim to the hospital.
As officers began speaking with witnesses they observed a large rock, a black pocket knife and a tree branch that witnesses stated were used in the assault. Witnesses also provided for police a video of the assault that was taken with a phone.
Officers located a subject in the 1800 block of Polk that appeared to be the same subject that officers saw in the video assaulting the victim. He was identified as 20 year old Casey Green. While officers were talking with Green he admitted to assaulting the victim. Green stated that he had been involved in a disturbance with the victim. Green stated that approximately 8-9 minutes after the victim departed two of his friends, an 18 year old black male and a 19 year old Hispanic male, showed up. Green stated they all went looking for the victim then found him in an empty lot in the 1800 block of Polk St. Green stated that the victim fled and that he had thrown a large rock at the victim and it struck him in the back of his left shoulder. Green stated once they caught the victim in the intersection the three of them began hitting the victim with a tree branch and began kicking him in the head and body. Green stated that there was a crowd forming and they told him they were calling the police and that`s when the suspects fled the scene.
Green was arrested and transported to the Wichita County jail where he was charged with aggravated assault.
The other suspects in the assault were not located. The case is still under investigation.
With the increase in Holiday shopping the Wichita Falls Police Department would like to remind people that one of the best ways to help prevent from becoming a victim of vehicle burglary is to simply lock your vehicles.
Lock, Take, Hide. The basic crime fighting tool to help reduce vehicle burglaries.
- Lock your vehicle. It takes seconds to break a window, but doing so makes noise – and criminals hate making noise.
- Take your keys and other valuables with you when you leave your vehicle.
- Hide valuables from sight, or take items with you. If a criminal doesn’t see anything, they’re less likely to break in, and will move on.
- Park in areas that are not secluded. Well lit parking lots, with good “sight lines”, make it more likely your vehicle is visible to the general public.
- Aftermarket car stereos; consider models with removable face plates. Take the face plate with you when your leave your vehicle.
- Record serial numbers of property you may leave inside your vehicle. If stolen, it makes it more likely the suspect, if he tries to pawn, will be identified.
There is no 100% fool-proof way to prevent all crime. You can make yourself less likely to be a victim of a burglary. Simply locking your vehicle and removing property from inside is half the battle.
The Wichita Falls Police Department would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving and to remind everyone of a few safety tips to help make this time more enjoyable.
If you are traveling:
- Please give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
- Do not drive tired. If you become drowsy, find a safe place to stop and take a break.
- Always, wear your safety belt.
- Be prepared to slow down. The road conditions can quickly change due to weather or traffic congestion.
If you are shopping:
- Always, be mindful of your surroundings.
- Lock your car; Take your keys; Hide your belongings.
- If you are shopping at night, try to park in well-lighted areas.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Keep a record of all your credit card numbers and contact your credit card company immediately if one is stolen.
- If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time have a neighbor collect your mail.
- Have various inside lights on multiple timers.
- Ensure that all your doors and windows are locked and secured.
- If someone knocks at your door that you do not know you Do Not have to answer it.
These are just a few simple crime prevention techniques that can help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.
Earlier today, members of the U.S. Marshals Service arrested 20 year old James Green in New Orleans on an outstanding WFPD Murder warrant for the murder of Clifton Carr back in August of this year.
On August 27, at approx 6:47 pm, officers were dispatched to the shopping center located at 3146 5th Street (Seymour Hwy) in reference to what was believed at the time to be a possible vehicle accident. Clifton Carr had exited a vehicle in the parking lot at that location and walked into the Little Caesars Pizza where he collapsed on the floor. They immediately called 9-1-1. When officers arrived, they discovered that Carr was bleeding from a gunshot wound. Carr was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery, however he later died from his wounds.
Investigation revealed that Carr had been involved in a disturbance in the shopping center parking lot with James Sherman Green III. During that disturbance Carr was shot and Green fled the scene.
On Monday, November 20th, at approximately 9:00 pm officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department were dispatched to the 1300 block of 15th Street in reference to a possible burglary of a habitation in progress.
Upon arrival officers could hear movement coming from inside the residence and observed someone using a flashlight. Officers located a broken window on the side of the residence and heard someone climbing through it. When officers shined their flashlight on the suspect the suspect began to run. He was quickly caught in the 1500 block of Bluff and was identified as 17 year old Jose Villagomez.
Villagomez stated to officers that he and a friend, 17 year old Daniel Le, broke into the residence by breaking out a window on the side of the residence in order to smoke marijuana. Villagomez stated that Le was inside the residence when he went out the window and ran. Officers located a subject in the 1200 block of 16th Street who identified himself as Daniel Le.
Both, Villagomez and Le, were arrested and transported to the Wichita County jail without incident where they were charged with burglary of a habitation. Villagomez was also charged with evading.