Beware of Internet Scams

In tough economic times people often look for creative ways to seek employment which sometimes can make them more susceptible to scams.  A Frederick County woman is speaking out after becoming a victim of fraud in hopes of preventing it from happening to anyone else.  She placed ads on Craigslist seeking employment as a nanny and as a senior care worker.  The 40-year-old received e-mails in response to her posting, offering her employment as a personal assistant.  In the e-mails the supposed employer asked her to cash checks that they would mail her, and she was told to send the money by various means to other accounts.  The scam involved cashier’s checks.  The victim is now out more than $2,400.

Craigslist offers tips on its website to prevent from becoming a victim of fraud and scams.  It suggests dealing locally, never wiring funds, and never giving out financial information.  There is also information on Craigslist on how to recognize a scam.

The Winchester Police Department reminds residents to be vigilant about over the phone or e-mail based financial transactions, especially ones that are unsolicited.  If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, you should file a police report.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week

Pictured from left to right: Adrianne Williams, Tara Wooten, Angela Lauck, Kelly Brill, Tammy DeHaven, Andrea Turner, Elizabeth Yost, and Jennifer Copeland. Not Pictured: Erin Elrod, Terri Mellott, and Mike Sale

 

This week we honor the men and women who serve as the “first” first responders.  They are our public safety communications professionals who work behind the scenes to help us during emergencies.  We are fortunate to have a group of dedicated Emergency Communications Center Specialists at the Winchester Police Department.  They are the first line of contact to our emergency professionals who respond during times of crisis.  It takes an incredible amount of patience and professionalism for these individuals to calmly dispatch officers or emergency service personnel, all while communicating with an irate or hysterical caller on the phone.

Please join us in celebrating National Telecommunications Week and as we honor these individuals who work behind the scenes we send our thoughts and prayers to the dispatchers and first responders in Boston.

Adrianne Williams

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash if you are texting while driving.  The Winchester Police Department is joining DRIVE SMART Virginia in supporting Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we’re calling on all drivers to avoid any distraction when they’re behind the wheel.  According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, last year more than 770 people died in crashes in Virginia.  Eight out of 10 traffic accidents in the Commonwealth are related to a distracted driving incident.

The Winchester Police Department is reaching out to teen drivers this month in an effort to educate them about the dangers of texting while driving.  We will be handing out flyers to students at Handley High School during dismissal on April 15th and asking for their commitment to stop using a cell phone while driving.  The message is “Buckle Up, Phone Down.”

Distracted driving isn’t limited to your cell phone.  Set your GPS before you hit the road.  It’s also recommended that you eat in a restaurant, not in the car.  Children in the back seat can also be a distraction.  Avoid turning around to tend to children, and instead pull over to take care of their needs. Finally, we hope that you will remind your friends and family of the dangers of being distracted while driving.  A quick look away from the road could cause a serious crash that could injure you, your passengers, or someone else.  It isn’t worth it; the call, the text, and the e-mail can wait.

For more information visit www.drivesmartva.org.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Police to Increase Patrols for St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

Don’t count on luck to get your home safely this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, guarantee it by planning ahead.  The Winchester Police Department will have increased patrols throughout the city beginning tonight through Sunday.  Residents are reminded to plan ahead before heading out to celebrate the holiday by designating a sober driver before leaving home.  Officers will be looking for drivers who are driving drunk or are impaired by other drugs.

If you suspect an impaired driver call the non-emergency police telephone number at 540-662-4131.  Callers should be prepared to give a description of the vehicle, license plate number, location, and the car’s direction of travel.

Also remember that if you know someone who is about to drive or ride with someone who is under the influence to help them make other arrangements to ensure their safety.

We wish everyone a safe holiday weekend.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Winchester Police Cruisers Get New Look

Winchester Police Cruiser

Winchester Police Cruiser

You will soon see two new cruisers on the streets of  Winchester.  The Winchester Police  Department has added two new patrol cars to its fleet.  The 2013 Ford Police Interceptors are  sporting a new design.  The design  includes a new blue and gold color scheme.   The vehicles are all wheel drive and will be safer for officers when  they are patrolling in inclement weather.   The cruisers will only flash blue lights, as the department is phasing  out the red lights on the light bars.

The police department invites members of the media  to the Timbrook Public Safety Center on Friday, February 15 to see the new  vehicles.  The event will take place at 1  o’clock in the lower parking lot on the west side of the building.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Residents Reminded to Remove Snow from Sidewalks

Mother Nature has dumped more snow on the region and even more is expected to fall.  The Winchester Police Department wants to remind residents of the city’s snow removal ordinance.  The ordinance requires property owners or occupants to remove snow and ice from sidewalks that adjoin their property.  If snow falls during the daytime, residents are responsible for clearing sidewalks within two hours after the precipitation has stopped falling.  Residents have until 9 a.m. the following day after a nighttime snowfall.  Those who do not comply with the ordinance may receive a notice from the police department.  If the resident has not cleared the sidewalk within 24 hours of the notice, further action can be taken.

It is our goal to educate residents on the snow ordinance so that the city sidewalks remain a safe place for people to walk.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

School Bus Safety

The  Winchester Police Department would like to remind the public to be extra  cautious when driving near school buses.  The police department has received complaints regarding drivers who are  not stopping when a school bus is displaying flashing red lights and a stop  sign.  Motorists are reminded that both  directions of traffic are required to stop on four lane roads without a divided  highway when a school bus is picking up or dropping off students.  Some examples of these roads in the City of  Winchester are Valley Avenue (Route 11) and Pleasant Valley Road.  Violators will be charged with reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor that is punishable with up to one year in jail  and/or a $2,500 fine.

Children  often forget to look both ways when they are getting on or off the bus and these traffic laws are in place to prevent an accident involving a school bus  or the bus riders.  The police department is increasing enforcement of traffic laws involving school buses in an effort  to ensure the safety of our children.

Code of Virginia § 46.2-859.  Passing  a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence.  A person driving a  motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any  school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for  the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in  motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving.  The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if  the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway  is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area.  The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the  school bus.  This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front  and rear thereof.  Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.

The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school  bus.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Best Buy Donations to Benefit Timbrook Outreach Fund

On Saturday, January 19th Best Buy in  Winchester will present Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher of the Winchester Police  Department with a check to benefit the Ricky L. Timbrook Children’s Outreach  Fund.  Around the holidays Best Buy offered  free gift wrapping and the donations received benefitted the Timbrook Outreach Fund and Timber Ridge School.  This year the program raised $1,600, with both benefactors receiving half.

The Timbrook Outreach Fund was established on  November 1, 1999, just a few days after Winchester Police Sergeant Timbrook was  killed in the line of duty.  The fund was  established by Sergeant Timbrook’s wife to help disadvantaged children in the community to obtain items such as clothing, school supplies, and toys.

The Winchester Police Department would like to thank Best Buy and members of the community who made donations for supporting  this cause.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Kits Offered to Victims of Stalking

Stalking Prevention Kits

Stalking Prevention Kits

The numbers tell the story.  According to the Stalking Resource Center one in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.  In 2012 The Laurel Center served 30 stalking  victims.  It is a serious crime that  often goes unreported.  January is Stalking Prevention Month and this month the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office,  Winchester Police Department, Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, and The Laurel  Center are teaming up to offer assistance kits to victims of stalking.  The kits will include informational brochures as well as items to help victims document stalking incidents.  It is our hope these kits will provide victims with knowledge to protect themselves and the tools and resources needed, in the event the act continues against them. The kits will be available at the Winchester Police Department, Frederick County  Sheriff’s Office, Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and The Laurel Center.  The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Explorer Post 152 will be assembling the kits.

Donations for the kits are being accepted by The Laurel Center.  Please write “stalking” in the memo section  of your check.  Checks can be made out to The Laurel Center and mailed to:

The  Laurel Center

c/o  Donna Carpenter

PO  Box 14

Winchester,  VA 22601

If you would like to donate a specific item for the kits, contact Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinator Melissa Nilsen at (540) 667-6160.

The media is invited to attend a kickoff event announcing the Stalking Prevention  Kits Project.  Our wish is to notify the public of the program and the resources available for victims of this intimidating crime.  The kickoff is January 22nd at 1p.m. in the Frederick County Public Safety Building.  We hope you can join us.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov

Officers to Enforce Snow Removal Ordinance Beginning Friday

Winchester residents are reminded to clear sidewalks of snow and ice.  On Friday, January 4th Winchester Police will begin enforcing the city’s snow removal ordinance.  The Winchester city ordinance states that it is the duty of property owners or occupants to remove snow and ice from sidewalks.  If snow falls during the daytime, residents are responsible for clearing sidewalks within two hours after the precipitation has stopped falling.  Residents have until 9 a.m. the following day after a nighttime snowfall.  Those who do not comply with the ordinance will receive a notice from the police department.  If the resident has not cleared the sidewalk within 24 hours of the notice, the city can remove the snow and charge the owner for the work done.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and to helping ensure residents remain safe when walking on city sidewalks.

This press release was prepared by Lauren Cummings, Police Community Relations/Crime Prevention Specialist. (540) 545-7548 (office)  lauren.cummings@winchesterva.gov