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American River Messenger

Fair Oaks Folks Talk Transients and Scammers with Sheriff's Deputies

Feb 05, 2016 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Seraphim Winslow

Deputy Jason Gillock of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department advises the public on neighborhood safety.

Fair Oaks Folks Talk Transients and Scammers with Sheriff's Deputies [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

On Jan. 26th, Sacramento County Sheriff officers from all three shifts—morning, swing and graveyard—were on hand at La Vista School in Fair Oaks to discuss neighborhood security at a community sheriff’s meeting with local residents and participants in active neighborhood watch groups. Deputies talked about projects they have been working on in the area, and members of the public expressed concerns and posed questions about suspicious activity in several Fair Oaks neighborhoods.

The main speaker of the evening was Deputy Jason Gillock, who is responsible for the Carmichael, Orangevale, Old Foothill Farms, and Fair Oaks areas. One issue that Gillock highlighted was the prevalence of a variety of ongoing scams, both by telephone and door-to-door solicitation. There is, for example, a so-called “grandma scam” that occurs when an elderly resident receives a phone call from a speaker who starts the conservation with words like, ‘Hi, Grandma (or Grandpa). It’s your grandson/daughter.” The scammer then proceeds to elicit as much personal information as possible before the resident realizes what is going on. Other scams include callers posing as representatives of local electric and gas companies, banks, and even the I.R.S. Sheriff’s deputies urged the public to be extremely cautious when answering the telephone.

Another pressing problem, which is mostly the concern of the County Sheriff’s Transient Enforcement Team, is the acute rise of suspicious activity throughout Sacramento County arising from the homeless population. North Crime Prevention Specialist, Sherrie Carhart, said that, “One of the big complaints we get is people hanging out in front of businesses asking for money.” Carhart also told the story of a local resident who did not realize that a transient had been camping out in her backyard for over two months. Sergeant Michael Haynes remarked that residents should report the presence of vacant houses in local neighborhoods, since unoccupied homes are a magnet for squatters and transients.

Since so much of this activity goes unreported by the public, law enforcement officers face a daunting challenge in their attempt to monitor and control incidents of suspicious transient activity, as well as the confidence tricks and scams, which they mentioned at Tuesday evening’s meeting. In this regard, Sergeant Haynes mentioned one instance of “an older Russian gentleman who goes from house to house telling people that he’s down on his luck and needs help. We hear talk about him, but no one ever reports him.” Unreported cases like these are more common than most people think, and if the sheriff is not informed about them, they continue to be a nuisance to the community.

In light of these difficulties, Officer Gillock encouraged the public to be diligent in reporting any and all suspicious activity. There are a number of ways this can be done. “We have on online reporting system,” remarked Gillock, as well as the numerous telephone numbers through which the public can access the relevant branch of the sheriff’s office. Apart from 911, a few of these numbers include the sheriff’s non-emergency line at (916) 874-5115 and the sheriff's emergency number at (916) 974-5111. Nuisance complaints involving activities such as abandoned shopping carts, illegal dumping, street light problems, and vacant or dangerous buildings can be reported by dialing 311.