Villa Park Neighborhood Watch update for October 2018. The Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program which enlists the active participation of residents in cooperation with law enforcement to reduce crime in their communities.
For more information on Neighborhood Watch in your area, please contact the City of Villa Park at (714) 998-1500 or send an email to the City of Villa Park.
October 2018 Update
The official report from OCSD to Villa Park City Council at the meeting last evening advised that thefts from unlocked vehicles parked on driveways or residential streets comprise the crime activity currently occurring in the city. Citizens are urged to keep all windows, doors on vehicles and residences locked at all times and to leave nothing of value in a parked, locked vehicle. Ask visitors/guests to help us deter crimes of opportunity by doing the same. The other primary enforcement issues remain traffic violations and the resulting accidents. Deputies are increasing the focus on enforcement of traffic and pedestrian laws in an effort to reduce the number of accidents.
Lt. Rich also reminded that phone calls requesting a credit/debit card #, wired funds, etc. in return for assistance to a family member, winning a lottery or prize, retiring unpaid debt, IRS/legal claims, etc. should never be trusted…no matter how legitimate they may sound. Recipients of these calls should contact OCSD, 714-647-7000, or the FTC at www.ftc.gov
Since scams and false advertising are major issues resulting in financial loss, often targeting seniors, the following article from the FTC is shared as a caution to all residents. As always, thank you for your continued successful efforts to keep our city safe. (And let’s be extra-cautious after dusk on Halloween, when trick-or-treaters may be on the prowl!)
Smoking out bogus product claims
Quitting smoking and losing weight can be enormously challenging. In the quest to kick the habit or drop the pounds, you might be tempted by products promising miraculous results. But take a breath before you buy or try. Those ads could be exaggerations or outright lies that wind up costing you big. Case in point: The FTC says Redwood, Inc. guaranteed consumers that its TBX-FREE smoking cessation and Eupepsia Thin weight-loss products worked better than others, and that clinical studies backed this claim. In Eupepsia Thin ads, actors (not actual, unpaid users) said they lost a substantial amount of weight using the product. What’s more, Redwood also allegedly enrolled consumers in an auto-pay program, debiting their cards every month without their knowledge or consent.
Looking past the hype is critical in making sure you’re not falling for false promises that will rob you blind. Whether you’re looking to stop smoking, lose weight, or do anything to improve your health, be skeptical about ads promising miraculous results. Most important, be sure to talk to a healthcare provider before you buy – or take – any product advertised with health claims. To learn more about evaluating health product claims, visit the FTC’s health page. And if you’ve been taken in by false or misleading product claims, report it to the FTC
September 2018 Update
7 parking violations
Two cars were rummaged through on Durfee Circle but no loss was reported
August 14th – A resident on Aberdeen reported an unlocked home entry but no loss was reported.
A gardener reported his leaf blower was taken from his truck
The Villa Park Town Hall on Wildfire Preparedness will be on Tuesday, Sept. 25th, 6:00-7:30pm at Villa Park City Hall…sponsored by City of Villa Park, Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. to help residents understand the impact of wildfires and be prepared to handle one in our area by learning how to protect themselves, their families and their property. Many residents have built their homes and landscaped without fully understanding the impact that could result from wildfire. There may not be a lot of time to figure out who is home, what to take, where or when to go. All residents are urged to attend this “Ready, Set, Go” program.
August 2018 Update
As shown in the Blotter, the law enforcement activity in Villa Park continues to be traffic stops, citizen assists, suspicious persons/circumstances, thefts from unlocked vehicles, petty thefts in the shopping center, falsely activated alarms. Our city remains the safest place to live in Orange County, thanks to our diligent deputies and cooperative residents. As the school year opens, it’s timely to remind neighbors, friends, children (and ourselves) to be especially cautious and patient as traffic increases in our city with the transport of students from other communities/cities to the four Villa Park schools and to Orange Lutheran HS.
Back to school: Protect your child’s information
Many school forms require personal and sensitive information. Here are some tips for keeping your child’s personal information safe — from pre-school through college.
- Safeguard your child’s Social Security number (SSN). Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card with you, and don’t share it unless you know and trust the other party. Ask why it’s necessary and how it will be protected. Ask if you can use a different identifier, or use only the last four digits.
- Know your rights under FERPA. The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records. FERPA requires schools to notify parents and guardians about their school directory policy. It also gives you the right to opt out of sharing contact or other directory information with third parties, including other families.
- Limit what kids share online. Teach kids not to post their name, address or full date of birth on social media. For more tips, check out the FTC publication, Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. It offers practical tips and ideas for getting the conversation started about social networking, privacy, mobile devices, computer security, and dealing with cyberbullying.
- Use strong passwords on smartphones, tablets or laptops. Teach the importance of changing passwords – and not sharing them. This is especially important for college students in a dorm or other shared living space.
- Use a shredder. Shred all documents with your child’s personal information before throwing them away.
- Check whether your child has a credit report close to the child’s 16th birthday. If there is one — and it has errors due to fraud or misuse — you’ll have time to correct it before your child applies for a job, seeks a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment. Contact Equifax at 1-800-525-6285; Experian at 1-888-397-3742; and TransUnion at email@example.com.
Did your favorite celebrity reach out to you on social media?
Before you get too excited, are you sure it’s that person? Really sure? We’ve heard reports that scammers, who will try just about anything to separate you from your money, are now posing as celebrities on social media. They’re asking fans to send money for all kinds of supposed reasons – like claiming a prize, donating to a charity, or giving help of some kind. Some celebs do raise money for legitimate causes. But you want to be sure the cause—and the person asking you to support it—are real.
Imposter scams come in many varieties, but they all work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money. And that’s exactly what these celebrity imposters are trying to do.
So what should you do if a celebrity contacts you on social media and asks for money?
- Slow down. Before you send money, talk with someone you trust.
- Do some research: search online for the celebrity’s name plus “scam.” Do the same with any charity or cause they’re asking you to support—and learn more about charity scams here.
- Never send money, gift cards or prepaid debit cards to someone you don’t know or haven’t met – even celebrities you meet on social media.
- If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (your bank, wire transfer service, gift card company, or prepaid debit card company). Tell them the transaction was a fraud. Ask the company to reverse the transaction, if it’s possible.
- Report your experience to the social media site and to the FTC.
To learn more about imposter scams, visit FTC.gov/imposters.
July 2018 Update
Villa Park’s National Night Out is Tuesday, August 7, 6:00-8:00 PM at the City Hall area of the Towne Centre. Please share with your neighborhood network. There will be displays by OCSD and OCFA featuring K-9 demos and fire trucks, also food, games, prizes, music, activities for the kids – a special evening of neighbors coming together to celebrate and preserve the safety and security of our city. We’ll be there with a Neighborhood Watch sign-up table to encourage participation by all Villa Parkans and to distribute helpful material from the FTC concerning identity theft, scams and fraud, online security for all ages. etc. VP Rotary, Women’s League, Community Services Foundation, merchants and other groups will be on hand to add to the festivities. Encourage your friends and neighbors to stop by, especially those with kids – this is a chance to generate respect and appreciation for our law enforcement personnel and to sign the “thank you” board for presentation at the next City Council meeting. We are fortunate to have outstanding protection and support from our Deputies, and they welcome this opportunity to meet the residents and respond to concerns or questions.
Tech-support/computer repair scams remain a major source of fraud and are especially aimed at mature, upper-income communities like ours. The article below from FTC is an excellent reminder to share with friends and neighbors. Calls reporting to be from Apple, Microsoft or other recognized names are ALWAYS fraudulent – please advise everyone you know to hang up and report the calling number to FTC as shown below. As always, thank you for investing your time and effort in keeping the Hidden Jewel Orange County’s safest city.
June 2018 Update
National Night Out in Villa Park will be on Tuesday, August 8th, 5:00-7:00 PM in the Towne Centre.
With schools out for the summer, petty crimes/traffic congestion in the city are reduced. Law enforcement activity continues to be vacation checks, suspicious persons, disturbances, traffic stops, burglar alarms and citizen assist calls. Following the relocation of transients from the Santa Ana River bed, residents have occasionally noticed these people in Villa Park – sometimes checking trash and recycle cans. There has also been mail theft. As a safeguard, residents should consider:
1) shredding all mail/documents/papers that are put into trash or recycle disposal bins;
2) putting those bins at the street after dawn on the day of pickup, thus preventing trash-hunting after dark;
3) installing a locked mailbox to secure incoming mail;
4) putting outgoing mail into the USPS box behind City Hall or putting outgoing mail into their mailboxes shortly before the expected time of delivery.
All residents must follow “safe and sane” procedures in celebrating the Fourth of July. Only legal fireworks may be discharged in Villa Park, i.e. displays that do not leave the ground. If residents observe aerial fireworks in use, they are urged to immediately contact the Sheriff’s Dispatch Office, 714-647-7000. Residents of surrounding cities, where fireworks are illegal, often migrate into our city to use illegal fireworks in cul-de-sacs and medians, ignoring the restrictions on what type of fireworks may be set off. We must be vigilant – our city is vulnerable to disastrous fire as the drought conditions continue.
Scams, fraud and identity theft remain the greatest threat to residents. Senior citizens are frequently targeted and must be suspicious of all emails, phone calls, solicitations. Before making a purchase/providing a credit card number, everyone needs to initiate a phone call or independent contact to confirm that the offer is legitimate. Residents are also cautioned that the solicitation of money by seemingly impoverished people in shopping centers, at off-ramps, etc. is another scam. When stopped by law enforcement, these people usually have large sums of cash on their persons and arrived at the site in late model vehicles, have adequate food and shelter. Their goal is to victimize caring but gullible “donors.” There are numerous private and government-operated sources that provide for those who are in need.
As always, thank you for your continued involvement in Neighborhood Watch. It makes all the difference in the quality of life we enjoy in Villa Park.
Child Kidnapping Scam
Imposters will pretend to be anyone to get you to send them money. Recently, reports of the virtual child kidnapping imposter scam have resurfaced. The scam begins with a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped a child in your family. You may even hear sounds of a child in distress in the background. The scammer demands money immediately, often wanting money sent through a wire transfer service or by prepaid card. The scammer may even insist that you keep the call a secret and not alert the police.
These calls are fake and law enforcement organizations, like the FBI, are aware of this type of scam. If you get a call like this, resist the urge to send money immediately, no matter how dramatic the story. These scammers are good at pressuring you to send money before you have time to think. How do they know your information? Scammers will search the internet and social media sites to get personal information.
It’s natural to want to check on your child’s safety, even if your head tells you the call is fake. That’s OK. Contact your child or their school directly. Then you can report this fraud at ftc.gov/complaint.
April 2018 Update:
Villa Park’s OCSD officer Lt. Jeff Puckett has been promoted to Captain and transferred within Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Villa Park thanks him for his years of outstanding service to our city, congratulates him on his well-deserved promotion, and warmly welcomes his replacement, Lt. Pat Rich, who is pleased to be working with Villa Park and its residents. Lt. Rich commended our city’s outstanding safety record and programs, including Neighborhood Watch.
Transients: The issue of transients in the community following closure of the encampments along the Santa Ana River bed was discussed. Judge Carter has advised that 2,700 beds are needed to accommodate the current homeless population of Orange County. While it is not a prevalent problem in Villa Park, Lt. Rich advised that the City has adopted and will maintain a “zero tolerance” position regarding transients within the city. Residents are asked to immediately notify OCSD if they become aware of any transient presence by calling OCSD Dispatch Office, 714-647-7000, pressing 9 after recording language preference, then 1 to be transferred to a live agent at the desk.
Traffic safety and parking remain issues of concern, particularly in the areas of the 4 schools in the City. Enforcement will be stepped up, especially during peak hours for school and commuter traffic. The timing of the left turn lights at Taft and Santiago intersection will be reset in an effort to relieve congestion and improve traffic flow.
Villa Park crime report for February. (Final report for March will be available at the next City Council meeting.) Seven crimes occurred during the month of February: 1 household burglary; 1 stolen vehicle; 5 petty thefts including 1 shoplifting. 17 traffic citations were issued. The bulk of the activity involving OCSD deputies and Public Service Responders includes audible burglary false alarms, citizen assists, legal process service, traffic stops, disturbances, suspicious persons, etc.
To assist in retrieval of stolen property, OCSD is asking residents to mark items, whenever possible, with a serial number, CA driver’s license number, or other identifier to assure that, if recovered, the item can be returned to the owner by confirming a valid claim.
The next meeting of the VP LEAC will be June 11, 6:00 PM at City Hall. The meetings are open to the public. Thank you for continuing to share Neighborhood Watch information with friends and neighbors.
February 2018 Update:
MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTED BY RESIDENTS – 10:45 PM, MONDAY NIGHT, 2/12/18 – VICINITY OF TAFT AND SYCAMORE IN EAST VILLA PARK. Proper authorities have been alerted,but all residents are cautioned to exercise extra effort to protect pets and children and to be alert to the animal’s potential presence, especially in the evening/night time/early morning hours.
- Stay calm. Hold your ground or back away slowly, creating distance
- Do not approach a lion. Never approach a mountain lion especially one that is feeding or with kittens. …
- Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. …
- Do not crouch down or bend over – maintain eye contact.
- Make noise/shout, seem as large as possible, act defiant/not afraid.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: VILLA PARK ANNUAL HOME SECURITY FAIR SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 2:00-4:00 PM, VILLA PARK CITY HALL. Once again, Orange County Sheriff’s Department representatives and professional security vendors/firms will be available to discuss and demonstrate the latest and most effective deterrents to home invasion, burglary, identity theft, online and phone fraud/scams, etc. Plan to stop by, and encourage your friends and neighbors to take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and obtain advice. No charge – open to all.
LAW ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE REPORT 2/12/18: The committee continues to study solutions to traffic issues around the 4 schools in Villa Park during the hours of arrival and departure, as well as the need for adequate on-site drop-off centers to relieve the public streets of the congestion and pedestrian hazards that occur in the absence of secure locations for delivery of students. A long-time resident living near Cerro Villa MS and Serrano ES attended the meeting to commend and thank the LEAC for its pursuit of the recommended re-striping of Serrano Avenue, promptly implemented by the City, which has greatly increased the safety of students and pedestrians in that area.
OCSD Lt. Jeff Puckett announced that crime continues to decline in our city. 2017 saw a 19% drop in crime incidents over 2016…an ongoing trend due to the cooperation of Villa Park residents and our effective Neighborhood Watch program as well as the diligence of our OCSD law enforcement personnel. Thank you all for your participation in the Neighborhood Watch network. The statistics tell the story…looking out for neighbors and friends pays off. Anyone wishing to be added to the communication network can contact City Hall, 714-998-1500, to have an email address added to the list. Please continue to report all suspicious/non-emergency incidents to OCSD Dispatch Office, 714-647-7000 and check the blotter, http://ws.ocsd.org/Blotter/
Neighborhood Watch meetings can cover such topics as Home Security, Personal Safety, Identity Theft, Disaster Preparedness and any other topics that your neighborhood may be interested in.
For more information on Neighborhood Watch in your area, please contact the City of Villa Park at (714) 998-1500 or send an email to the City of Villa Park.
Villa Park Neighborhood Watch Update:
11/24/2017: OCSD Lt.Jeff Puckett advises that crime in the City of Villa Park continues to decline, despite increasing rates in the County. There were 7 incidents within the city limits in October, which would have been reduced to 2 if all doors/windows of the affected vehicles & residences had been locked. The breakdown: 3 residential burglaries – one, a 2nd-story break-in – cash, jewelry stolen; 2 others; one through an unlocked door, one through a smashed window….cash, jewelry, etc. stolen. 4 incidents of petty theft…two from unlocked vehicles, one from a garage where the door was left open, one where it is unknown if door was locked/unlocked.