Smart Start work­shop fo­cuses on theft, fraud preven­tion

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jor­dana Joy

In prepa­ra­tion for upticks in theft dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, busi­ness own­ers and em­ploy­ees in Amherst were ed­u­cated about mer­chan­dise theft, fraud and on­line scams.

Main Street Amherst con­ducted its quar­terly Smart Start work­shop Oct. 11 at 255 Park Ave.

Amherst Po­lice De­part­ment Lt. Mark Cawthon and Dr. Daves PC Clinic pres­i­dent Dave Jones both spoke dur­ing the work­shop, giv­ing a crash course on how to iden­tify and pre­vent theft, both on­line and on a busi­ness’s floor.

Cawthon said late fall and early win­ter months, deemed “the sea­son of thieves,” are no­to­ri­ous for an in­crease of theft.

Thieves can­not be iden­ti­fied by a quick glance, Cawthon said.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what color, what race, who you are, what de­mo­graphic, shoplift­ing oc­curs through that,” he said.

Cawthon said in­di­ca­tors, in­stead, lie in what a cus­tomer might be wear­ing, car­ry­ing or act­ing like.

Baggy or ratty cloth­ing, un­char­ac­ter­is­tic garb for the sea­son (a down coat in the sum­mer) and hats or hoods cov­er­ing the face can be phys­i­cal in­di­ca­tors to take note of, although do not guar­an­tee theft, he said.

Back­packs, um­brel­las, garbage, plas­tic and large open bags and news­pa­pers also can be used to con­ceal stolen mer­chan­dise, he said.

Sus­pi­cious be­hav­ior in­cludes a cus­tomer glanc­ing quickly around the store, in­ter­chang­ing items for new ones, quickly mov­ing around the store, shop­ping right af­ter open­ing or be­fore clos­ing hours and dis­tract­ing em­ploy­ees.

“They have goals; they have plans for the job they’re gonna do,” Cawthon said.

Preven­tion meth­ods can in­clude se­cu­rity cam­eras at the front of the store placed at eye level and on top of tall walls or shelves that re­duce vis­i­bil­ity, mir­rors, mov­ing the cash reg­is­ter to the front of the store and good cus­tomer ser­vice, he said.

If a busi­ness is the vic­tim of a theft, Cawthon said be­ing a “good wit­ness” is key and in­cludes giv­ing phys­i­cal de­scrip­tions, li­cense plate num­bers and di­rec­tion of traf­fic if the po­lice are con­tacted.

“We want you to do this in a man­ner that’s safe for you ... You ask your­self: is the prop­erty worth you get­ting hurt?” he asked.

Jones said the best way for a busi­ness to avoid on­line scams is to not open sus­pi­cious emails, in­stall high-end anti-virus soft­ware, keep Wi-Fi se­cured with a pass­word and to not use WiFi for the busi­ness’s in­ter­net con­nec­tion.

“(Hack­ers are) com­ing in and steal­ing some­thing more im­por­tant than some­thing on your floor, some­thing not on a shelf,” he said. “They’re there for some­thing way more valu­able: data.”

JOR­DANA JOY — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

Dave Jones, pres­i­dent of Dr. Daves PC Clinic, speaks dur­ing the Smart Start work­shop on Oct. 11.

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