If you have a computer and have ever received an e-mail, you have probably also received an unsolicited offer to purchase something far below the typical retail price, or an offer to make a large sum of money with what seems like little or no risk. The use of the old adage that “if it seems too good to be true it probably is” has never been more appropriate than to describe offers like these.
In the past I have warned you about foreign lottery scams that continue to involve the transmission of thousands of e-mails sent and received daily across the country. As the name implies, the mailings promise a chance to win a foreign lottery, and sometimes falsely serve as a notification that the targeted victim has already won. A processing fee or “buy-in” for these lotteries is required from the “winner” supposedly for the purchase of “lucky lottery numbers” that would be theirs for a period of 3-12 months. In many cases the appealing offer sounds legitimate to the victim, except they are never paid after sending in their money. Some victims have later told detectives that they were afraid to stop responding to the mailings for fear of learning that the numbers would later become winners.
Clearwater, FL (January 2009) - Most people feel safe inside their own home and once inside, their personal belongings are often left unsecured or easily accessible. This is especially true when it comes to prescription medications. A recent trend suggests that medication has become a popular target for thieves. I would like to take this opportunity to offer some suggestions on how to properly secure your prescription medications and to prevent the expense and inconvenience associated with this type of theft.
Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the theft of prescription medication from private homes. In some cases the theft is part of a burglary in which the perpetrator targeted jewelry, cash, and small electronics. After gathering valuables to steal, the burglar simply opened a medicine cabinet before leaving and then took whatever prescription medication that was in plain view. In other cases, a theft was committed by trades people, invited guests, or even relatives who had access to medication that was in a medicine chest or left out in plain view. Some thefts were not discovered for an extended period of time because individual pills had been stolen or because the medication was no longer being taken by the victim.
From the Desk of Sheriff Jim Coats December 2008
As we begin the New Year, I would like to thank the citizens of Pinellas County for their overwhelming support. I look forward to my second term as your Sheriff, and my staff and I have implemented many initiatives despite having faced some serious and unprecedented budget challenges along the way.
All of our programs and services have been scrutinized to determine their cost effectiveness and productivity. This analysis became especially important during the past year when it became clear that there would be a significant reduction in our budget even though our operating costs had increased. Through some reorganization, including the elimination of some positions and modification of services, we endured and we are now planning for the future.
It is anticipated that we will once again face budget cuts in the coming fiscal year; however, I am confident that our ongoing efforts to ensure efficiency will allow us meet the challenge ahead. Some of the initiatives aimed at saving money, while still providing superior service to our citizens, include improvements in some patrol operations, crime prevention programs, and the use of volunteers.
Newly Proposed Constitutional Property Tax Amendment
Tallahassee FL, November 2007 - Senator Mike Fasano and his colleagues have returned to Tallahassee to prepare for the voters a newly proposed constitutional amendment pertaining to property taxes. This past September a circuit judge in Leon County tossed out the Florida Legislature’s previous joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Florida Constitution revising the manner in which property taxes are assessed in Florida. With this action undoing the work of a special legislative session held in June, the Florida Legislature was given a deadline of October 30, 2007 to revise the proposed amendment if consideration of that amendment is to be made available to voters for the January 29, 2008 presidential primary. The Legislature has now wrapped up its latest special session by offering a newly written constitutional amendment.
Clearwater, FL December 11 - Firefighters are in the business of saving lives. Sometimes under extreme circumstances, that can include one another. Clearwater’s Firefighter of the Year rescued an unconscious co-worker from the water during a training accident.
On June 11, 2008, Lt. Matt Daerr was participating in a personal watercraft training exercise in Tampa Bay. Firefighter/Fire Medic Jason Matthews, who was also in the exercise, was thrown from his Jet Ski after coming across the wake from a boat. He was knocked unconscious in the water. Lt. Daerr immediately went to FM Matthew’s rescue. He pulled FM Matthews from the water and brought him back to shore. Under the extreme circumstances of this water rescue, his action was exemplary and it is an example of the first-rate firefighting/rescue skills he possesses. His training, courage, and quick thinking saved FM Matthew’s life.
With the winter holiday season quickly approaching I am once again compelled to encourage everyone to prevent crime by eliminating opportunity. There are many steps that you can take to protect yourself and your valuables from a holiday thief.
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself is to remain aware of your surroundings. This means taking the extra time to park in well lit areas, and to look for suspicious people loitering nearby before getting out of your car. If you see something or someone that makes you feel uncomfortable, move to another parking area and/or report your suspicions to security guards, or a law enforcement officer. We would much rather investigate a suspicious person report than a violent crime. Other suggestions include limiting the amount of cash and credit cards you carry while shopping, and when possible, avoid shopping alone.
The most effective way to protect your valuables is to properly secure them. One of the most common points of entry for car burglars is through an unlocked door or an open window. You would be surprised how many vehicle burglaries we investigate because owners simply did not lock their cars. By locking your car doors, and closing windows completely, this is arguably one of the most preventable crimes. For this reason, locking your car doors and windows is especially important during the holiday season when many people travel from one location to another while shopping.
It is also recommended that you place gifts, packages, and other valuables in the trunk of your car or at least move them out of plain view. Purses, wallets, gift cards, portable electronics, and cash are all an open invitation for a criminal to break into your car.
By taking a few minutes to protect yourself and your belongings you may prevent a crime. By doing so you are once again helping us in “Leading The Way For A Safer Pinellas.”
If you would like other suggestions regarding holiday safety please contact the Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit at (727) 582-5611.
Tampa Bay Informer
The Good News Newspaper
Too many people, knowledge of what law enforcement agencies do is limited to what they might have seen in television dramas or news stories. For this reason, many people have only a limited understanding of how a professional law enforcement agency operates and what its employees do.
Deputies and other uniformed members of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are the most visible part of the agency, but there are many employees whose efforts are not as visible, yet they are vital to our success. These jobs include a wide variety of accounting, clerical, communication,
For those of us who love living in the Tampa Bay area, boating and fishing rank high among favorite outdoor activities for many people. Serious anglers are willing to spend a great deal of time and money in pursuit of a wide variety of fish species. The expense often includes boats that are built for specific types of fishing. These boats range from flats boats that are designed to operate in very shallow water to large multi-engine boats designed to operate offshore in hundreds of feet of water.
Too many people, knowledge of what law enforcement agencies do is limited to what they might have seen in television dramas or news stories. For this reason, many people have only a limited understanding of how a professional law enforcement agency operates and what its employees do. Deputies and other uniformed members of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are the most visible part of the agency, but there are many employees whose efforts are not as visible, yet they are vital to our success. These jobs include a wide variety of accounting, clerical, communication, maintenance and many other support positions without which the Sheriff’s Office would have difficulty in providing meaningful service to the public.
One important, yet seldom recognized function of any law enforcement agency is professional record management. When it comes to maintaining the Sheriff’s Office criminal records database, the job is handled by our Records Division. In most cases, until there is a need for a copy of report, the round-the-clock important tasks performed by the members of this division go largely unnoticed.
To accomplish their mission, the Sheriff’s Office Records Division is separated into three different units, each of which has specific responsibilities pertaining to law enforcement records. Criminal records are constructed, validated, archived, and disseminated by members of this unit as necessary in accordance with Florida public record laws. For this reason, criminal records from the present dating back to the 1950s are currently preserved.
As we approach the end of summer, I would like to remind you that a new school year is about to begin. Later this month, more than 150,000 Pinellas County students will once again begin making their daily trip to and from school in one of the largest school districts in our state. Whether traveling by car, bus, bicycle or on foot, students may face some challenges as they make their way to and from school in the coming months.
Nearly forty-five years ago President John F. Kennedy signed a law designating May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Each year on this date we remember the sacrifice made by law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty nationwide. The calendar week, beginning on Sunday, which includes May 15th has become known as National Police Week.
For the past twenty years a Law Enforcement Memorial Service has been held in Pinellas County during National Police Week. The service features a roll call of the 20 law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty in Pinellas County since 1905. These fallen officers are also recognized during the ceremony by a wreath laying, a 21-gun-salute and the playing of "Taps."