To the editor:
I was directed to the link for a letter, "Criminals benefit if police won't investigate credit card fraud," by a Patrol Officer.
He was incredibly surprised since he is the officer who took a report in this case, gathered statements from the business, submitted the video that the writer referenced as evidence, and began doing some investigative work to identify the owner of the vehicle that the suspects were using. The report was completed on 07-21-2014 around 5:40 p.m.
I want to address a couple of things in this letter.
First, it sounds as if the writer, Ms. Claytor, may have been provided with some incorrect information over the phone, or the person(s) to whom she spoke didn't fully understand what she was trying to accomplish. It's hard to say for certain without more information (with whom did she speak, what was said, etc.). Typically in a case like this, the victim files a police report at their home jurisdiction (it is not necessary to contact the jurisdiction where the crime occurred). That police department takes the report and does what we call a "Pend and Send." In this case, the victim's home police department would take the report, "pend" it in their system, and send the information to us for follow-up. The Cape Coral Police Department receives about 260 such "Pend and Send" cases a year. However, if the victim didn't go to her home PD, we could have (and should have) taken the report over the phone. Regardless of how or why this person got incorrect information, it is incumbent upon us to make sure our people are providing correct information to the public regarding these types of cases, and that the person to whom we are talking understands. This has been brought to the attention of our Patrol Bureau Captains and it will be addressed with their personnel.
Second, the assertions that the Cape Coral Police Department does not follow up on these crimes and that our officers are "too lazy to do their job" are patently false. Financial Crimes investigations are time and manpower intensive, and our Detectives work diligently with victims, witnesses, retailers, banks, credit card companies, etc., gathering information and putting together solid cases for successful prosecution. As stated above, the Cape Coral Police Department receives about 260 "Pend and Send" cases from other agencies each year. As of today, our Financial Crimes Unit is working 154 active open cases, with more being added all the time. I took the liberty of looking at just cases where fraud (credit card, banking, tax, identity theft, etc.) is the primary charge. In 2013 the Cape Coral Police Department handled 991 such cases. Year to date, we have handled 745, meaning we are seeing explosive growth in the area of white collar/financial/fraud crimes far surpassing last year's numbers. If I were to dig deeper, where fraud may be a secondary charge, these numbers would be even higher. Our Detectives in Financial Crimes carry the largest caseloads of any area, and in the coming year we are looking at bolstering manpower by 50 percent in our Financial Crimes Unit to even more aggressively tackle this growing crime trend.
In closing, let me say that the Cape Coral Police Department takes financial crimes and fraud investigations very seriously. We have an incredibly talented, professional group of investigators who work tirelessly to pursue these offenders and help make victims whole. In addition to tenacious enforcement, we actively engage the public through education to help prevent these types of crimes from occurring in the first place. As a state and internationally accredited agency, it is our goal to provide world-class customer service to anyone who comes into our lobby, calls for an officer, or picks up the phone to speak to our personnel. We love hearing from citizens who've had a great experience. When we fall short, we want to know and improve so that our citizens and those that visit Cape Coral feel safe and well-served by the men and women of their Cape Coral Police Department. Tell us how we are doing here: www.capecops.com/compliments-and-complaints.
Det. Sergeant Dana S. Coston
Public Affairs Officer
Cape Coral Police Department