Battle Creek Police Warn of Fake Hostage Scam
You might have three days off for the Memorial Day weekend, but rest assured that criminals won’t be taking time off. Battle Creek Police are warning residents about a new phone scam being used by criminals in the area. The following was posted on the department’s Facebook page:
“We have been informed of an ongoing telephone scam in our area. These scams consist of unknown callers making claims that a family member or friend is being held hostage and they will not be released unless money is sent via Western Union or another payment method. The suspects provide a short time period for the money to be paid, and they typically tell the victim they have to stay on the line until the money is sent. The suspects use personal information that is likely obtained through social media to give the impression that the threat is legitimate. All incidents have been found to be fraudulent at this time. Please share this information with your family and friends, and report these incidents to BCPD or your local police agency.”
In addition, Battle Creek Police Sgt. Chris Rabbit was on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins on Friday, with a few things to keep in mind as we enter the summer season. Sgt. Rabbit said that nicer weather and the lessening of COVID restrictions means people are becoming more active, and giving some criminals opportunities to take advantage. “ Whether you're biking, hiking, running, walking, or even just going to the mall, you really need to be aware of your personal safety and the safety of your property when you go to these places.”
Planned Exercise Routes
“We're all creatures of habit,” said Sgt. Rabbit. “We like routines and unfortunately criminals often bank on those routines. Commonly, people don’t plan their routes. They have the same running route or walking route and they do those almost every day, to the minute. It's really important for folks to try and vary those routes. It might be to run the route backward one day, change it up a little bit by going a few blocks over whatever it might be, but change those routes up.
Letting family/friend know your route and return time
Besides varying your route, it's important to communicate what your route is or when you plan to be back to a family member, friend, or somebody who can keep track. That’s in case you don't come back in time, whether it be from injury or some other event. It's always good to have someone that's watching out for you.
Safety Apps and Technology
There’s a lot of useful technology right at our fingertips, with our phones. You can go to your App Store, type in personal safety and there is a laundry list of personal safety apps that will track you. On the map as you go, that will be automatically shared with people that you choose as your contacts, and if by chance your running route all of a sudden stops and you're not moving anymore, it'll even check on you and say hey, are you alright? And if you don't respond within so many seconds, it'll send that emergency alert out to your contacts and some of them even connect to 911, right away.
Sgt. Rabbit says police use that type of technology every day to stay safe on the job. “We carry body cameras every day. If that body camera goes horizontal to the ground and isn't moving for so many seconds, it'll alert our dispatcher and let them know there's an officer down, and that dispatcher will automatically check in with that officer. Same thing with firefighters. When they're inside a fire, if they stop moving and they're down, it'll start to alert someone.”
Sgt. Rabbit says the technology is out there and being used, and he recommends everybody take a look and see which app or technology helps support them in their effort.
Securing/hiding valuables in your car when exercising in public areas.
With warmer weather, some of us might be leaving a car window or sunroof open. And Sgt. Rabbit says property left in plain sight might also entice a criminal to break in and steal something. He says it's very important to get those things put away. “I can't tell you how many times we've been up to Riverside elementary where people like to use the paths up there for running or walking. They come back and something's been stolen out of their car.” Sgt. Rabbit says to limit how much valuable property you have in your car and make sure you secure it. And he says to do it before you get to your destination. “That way when you get out of your car to go run your route, someone won’t be seeing you tucking it under the seat or wherever you might put it.”