Crime/Emergency Services 8-17-07

Beware shopper fraud

Police are warning the public about a fraud scheme. They have received several reports of a "Secret Shopper" position being advertised in local papers and on the Internet. The advertisements state that a person can make up to $100,000 in six months by evaluating different retail establishments.

A person inquiring about the job is sent an application that looks legitimate. The applicant is asked to "shop" and then rate a local money transfer service. They are sent what appears to be a check for $2,775 and instructed to transfer $2,000 back to their company. The applicant is told they keep the difference excluding the transfer fee. The credit union name on the check appears real and lists an 800-telephone number. When applicants call that number they are assured the check is good and can be used. Investigators found the suspects that placed the advertisement and sent the check also answer the telephone as credit union employees.

In one case, the applicant who called to complain that the large check did not clear was told their credit card account could be credited and asked the victim for their account number.

The fraud suspects appear to be working from Canada, a fact that presents challenges to investigators. Please be cautious of such offers and research a company's claims of quick returns of funds. "If it seems to be too good to be true, it often times is!" Please report any suspected fraud schemes to local police.

Motorcycle down

A 44-year-old woman motorcyclist lost control and put her bike down in the southbound lane near milepost 298 on Interstate 17. The woman was treated for "road rash," elbow abrasions and taken to the hospital for "mechanism of injury," to determine if other injuries are present that area not visible.

YCSO's K-9s in full service again

After a rocky start, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office K-9 teams are back on the streets in full force. The YCSO drug-detection dogs have been on hold since April of this year while new handlers have been in training for certification.

The training, which is approximately 200 hours in length, was conducted at several sites so that the dogs and their handlers had various opportunities to search different types of buildings and vehicles. This was a multi-agency training that included DPS, Coconino County, Navajo County, Mohave County and an agency from New Mexico. While training and certification for even one dog and handler can run into the thousands of dollars, this training and the use of facilities was donated by The Department of Public Safety (DPS) to our agency,

The four YCSO drug dogs were specifically matched with their handlers with the help of former deputy and dog handler Gary Cunningham. He had years of working with drug dogs and was the first to partner with Marco, the now-retired Belgian Malinois who worked Yavapai County roads and streets for several successful years.

YCSO's Handlers and their K-9 partners were trained by DPS Officer John McFarland. They are trained for one job only: to detect hidden drugs.

Beginning this week, the YCSO K-9's will begin working details throughout Yavapai County. The dogs and their handlers are Deputy Todd Anderson and Neo (Northern area command), Deputy Harry Shrum and Aros (Eastern area command), Deputy Jim Walls and Tjando (Southern area command) and Deputy Gene Guthery and Elliot (Northern area command).

Camp Verde man charged with construction site burglaries

A string of burglaries and the theft of copper wire in the Dewey-Humboldt area culminated with the arrest of two men, one from Camp Verde. Steven Dale Johnston, 43, of Camp Verde and 48-year-old Donald Robert Broa Jr. of Glendale were arrested last week.

Johnston was apprehended Friday, when owners of the AAA Xtra Space storage units in Cordes Junction reported a burglary to an APS truck on the grounds. Sheriff's deputies located Johnston asleep in his vehicle behind the storage yard. Evidence found at the scene connected him with the burglary, according to the report. Johnston allegedly confessed to the burglary as well as a burglary at MDI Rock on July 19 where property damage and the theft of tools and a large amount of copper wire totaled several thousand dollars. Johnston also implicated Broa as part of the MDI burglary.

Deputies located a storage unit leased to the Camp Verde man and in it found a quad vehicle that had been reported stolen in the Phoenix area as well as stolen tools. It was also suspected that Johnston was responsible for the July 19 burglary and theft of tools and copper wire from W.J. Lang Construction in Dewey-Humboldt, as well as a burglary and theft of a generator and copper wire from a residence in Dewey-Humboldt. Johnston has been linked to four or five other similar burglaries and this case is still under extensive investigation.

To date Johnston has been charged with second-degree burglary, four counts of third-degree burglary, six count of theft, two counts of vehicle theft, and four counts of vandalism. Broa has been charged with vandalism, third-degree burglary and four counts of theft.

The Sheriff's Office is requesting public help to supplement information on these or other similar burglaries. Contact the Yavapai Sheriff's Office at (928) 771-3260 or Yavapai Silent Witness (800) 932-3232.

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