Robo-parking enforcement to hit Edmonton this fall

Be warned. An Edmonton driver’s chances of getting away with illegal parking are set to drop dramatically when city officials roll out their new robo-parking patrol.

Car-mounted cameras will automatically check licence plates against the parking payment records while rolling at 50 km/h on downtown streets. A wall-mounted camera will take a picture every time a car enters or exits a city-owned parking lot to ensure payment and the human patrol no longer tasked with marching downtown streets will redeploy to school zones and other hot-spot areas.

City officials are evaluating product bids now and hope to have a test car on city streets in October. The full rollout would hit Edmonton by spring. “That would be ideal,” said Erin Blaine, parking enforcement co-ordinator.

“It’s just a way more efficient way to use resources,” Blaine said. The parking rules are there to ensure spots remain open for drop-in customers for local businesses, and the automated enforcement will be more reliable for everyone. “It eliminates officer error.”

Similar to photo radar, scofflaws will get a ticket in the mail rather than under their vehicle’s windshield wiper. It will include a photo of the licence plate, which Blaine hopes will reduce the number of people appealing these tickets in court. She currently has five to 10 officers called to court every week.

It’s a $50 ticket for motorists who do not pay for parking.

An update on the project went to city council last week. It’s a $12-million effort, with $5.2 million already spent on the new digital parking meters. It’s listed as late because the city originally thought it could roll out the whole plan by 2015.

The third phase — having city-owned parkades calculate the number and location of spots left — is still being developed.

The report to council says implementation was delayed while city officials investigated the possibility of partnering with another municipality.

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Chicago Police, Feds Team up on New Effort to Curb Violence

Chicago police, federal agents and prosecutors are launching a new initiative Friday to stem the flow of illegal firearms in the city as part of efforts to curb rampant gun violence that President Donald Trump says is at “epidemic proportions.”

Trump’s remark on Twitter came ahead of an announcement by Chicago police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about the formation of the Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force. The Chicago Sun-Times reported 20 additional ATF agents have been sent to Chicago.

State police, intelligence analysts and state and federal prosecutors will target illegal guns and repeat gun offenders, Chicago police said. Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a statement Thursday night that “we are foundationally changing the way we fight crime in Chicago.”

Trump tweeted Friday morning that “Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help.” In January, he warned Chicago about its high number of homicides, saying on Twitter that he is ready to “send in the Feds.”

Trump’s latest tweet said there have been 1,714 shootings in Chicago this year. The Sun-Times said its count showed 1,737 people have been shot in 2017, including 306 who died. The Associated Press sent a message to a police spokesman seeking their most recent count.

Police and federal officials note, however, that efforts to curb gun violence in Chicago have been cooperative — and are ongoing. Under the new effort, the federal prosecutors and prosecutors from Cook County will work on new strategies to prosecute gun crimes and offenders.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking Friday on the Fox News Channel’s morning show, “Fox & Friends,” said the Justice Department is “sending in additional gun investigators” to Chicago and that he has urged the U.S. attorney’s office to prosecute gun cases aggressively.

“The police have been demoralized in many ways,” he said. “In many ways, the policies in Chicago have not been working. Murders are way, way too high. It is critical for the people of Chicago’s public safety that we begin to work together here and deport violent criminals that have been convicted. They need to not be a sanctuary city, they need to be protecting the people of Chicago from violent criminals.”

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Woman charged with 130 counts of forgery, credit card and ID theft

MESA, AZ - A woman from California racked up $16,000 in charges using identities stolen from 18 people across the country.

Court records show that the woman took the identities of eighteen people, created multiple credit card accounts from four department stores where she purchased items on a weekly basis.

Mesa police report that between June 1, 2016, and February 1, 2017, Maria Del Carmen Ramos, age 37, used stolen identities to create and use credit cards accounts to buy items at 15 different Kohl’s stores in Maricopa County.

Police say Ramos received personal profiles of 18 people from a friend in California. Ramos allegedly used these profiles to create credit card accounts at Kohl’s, Macy’s, Toy ‘R’ Us and JC Penney.

Loss prevention officers at Kohl’s say they have video evidence showing Ramos using the fake cards to make 36 purchases totaling over $16,000. Police say the total benefit value to Ramos could rise as high as $100,000.

So far police have identified 18 victims whose identities were stolen. One of the victims set up a password on her account after seeing fraudulent purchases. This hold, police say, allowed them to capture Ramos at the Kohl’s store near McKellips and Hayden roads on February 1.

Ramos reportedly told police that she was making purchases weekly, buying mostly clothing for her family, as well as shoes, electronics, and gift cards because they were easy to sell. Police say they found multiple identifications in her purse when she was arrested.

Police are contacting the victims, five of who are from New York.

Ramos has been charged with 130 counts of forgery, identity theft and fraudulent schemes.

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High-end retail theft ring busted that targeted Western US

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco prosecutors have charged 16 people in a retail theft ring that stole more than $200,000 worth of clothing, purses and other merchandise from high-end stores such as Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo, the district attorney’s office said Monday.

Ten more people have been charged in other Western U.S. cities where the group stole an additional $200,000 worth of merchandise, including Honolulu and Seattle, prosecutors said. The group is accused in dozens of thefts dating back to 2015.

“We’re taking something that on its face might have been a single or maybe two or three events, and we have been able to connect this to many other events,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said at a news conference announcing the charges.

Linking the defendants to multiple thefts increases the potential sentences they face, he said.

The group in some cases sent as many as 10 or 12 people into a store with bags to grab as much merchandise as possible before running out the door, Assistant District Attorney Frank Carrubba said.

Some of the thefts became violent, with the thieves using pepper spray on store employees or brandishing knives, Carrubba said. There were often getaway drivers.

The charges filed include robbery, grand theft and commercial burglary.

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Chicago aldermen want to deploy private security to reduce crime

“After a spike in crime, two Chicago aldermen want to bring private security services to the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods to supplement what police are already doing.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) proposed a plan to use the taxpayer surplus Special Service Area, or SSA, funds for guards to help Chicago police patrol the Northwest Side communities. On Friday, the aldermen and 14th District Police Commander Fabian Saldana brought together dozens of residents to discuss the proposal.
“It’s no different than snow removal, beautification or the other things that SSA does. I believe security is important, and it’s important to augment it, not replace it,” Moreno said.
Since May, 1700 crimes from battery to arson were reported in the area, but only 200 arrests have been made, according to the aldermen.
“We’re trying to get a handle on that with this proposal,” Hopkins said.
The proposed budget amendment would use $100,000 of the $1.2 million SSA budget, allowing for the hiring of off-duty and retired police officers for late-night patrols.
Some residents expressed support, saying it would be “egregious” to not do anything about the crime.
“It’s a really good idea, but we need to think about standards and oversight,” said community resident Gretchen Vermuelen.
Others were not enthusiastic about the idea.
“Police service is a fundamental service that the city should be providing on its own. We should not be providing that,” said Steven Lipe.
The SSA district overlaps three wards, with two of the three aldermen backing the private security proposal. Ald. Hopkins said the SSA funding will expire if not spent by the end of the year.
“If we’re not able to come to an agreement or some compromise, a willingness to work together, then really the entire $1.2 million is in jeopardy,” said Kimberly Bares of the Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.
The aldermen said they hope to work out a solution within the next week.”

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Conn.men charged in scheme to defraud Mohegan Sun casino

“Men from Wallingford and Southington face felony charges after police said they worked together to adjust bets and receive excessive gambling credits.
Christian Elwood, 40, of 40 N. Orchard St., Wallingford and Jeremy Paul Howard, 40, of Southington were both charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.
According to the arrest warrant, in May officers from the Mohegan Tribal Police began a larceny investigation involving a Mohegan Sun dealer, identified as Elwood, a patron, identified by the New London Day as Howard and a Mohegan Sun Floor Supervisor, also identified by the Day as Joseph P. Marotta, 36, of Danielson.
Security personnel and the director of table games reviewed the security footage from May 4. Howard is seen placing $3,000 in “front money” at a cashier window, the arrest warrant said. “Front money” can be used to go to a table game and call up a marker for any amount up to the deposit amount, the warrant said. Howard went to a roulette table and bought in for $300, then asked for a $2,000 marker from his front money, the warrant said. Marotta took Howard’s identification to verify the information and placed the $2,000 in markers on the table, the warrant said. Elwood then took $20,000 in gaming cheques and placed them in front of Howard, the warrant said. Howard put the gaming cheques in his pocket and left the roulette table shortly after, the warrant continued. After Howard left, Marotta entered false ratings into the system showing Howard winning more than he did to account for the missing money, the warrant said.
On May 21, Howard went to a roulette table and placed $25 gaming cheques on numbers for several rounds of play, the warrant said. Howard did not win during the rounds, but Elwood moved his bets to the winning number, paying out around $4,375 per falsified win, the warrant said. During another round Howard did win $2,250, but Elwood moved more bet markers onto the space, doubling his win, the warrant said.
During an interview with tribal police Elwood admitted knowing Howard for about a year and a half. Elwood told police moving the bets to the winning numbers must have been a “mistake” and said the piles must have fallen over and when he was tidying up the bets he accidentally moved the markers, the warrant said. Elwood denied moving the bets on purpose, the warrant said. He also denied over paying Howard the $20,000 for the front money in the first incident, the warrant said.
Police spoke with Marotta, who eventually admitted talking to Elwood about financial difficulties and Elwood talked about intentionally overpaying a patron and they would “get a piece of the action if he looked the other way,” the warrant stated.”

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2 Sought After Credit Card Skimmers Found

ARRINGTON, Tenn. - Officials with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office said they’re searching for two suspects after finding credit card skimmers in Arrington.

The two skimmers were found Tuesday on gas pumps at Rapid Pak Market in the 4800 block of Murfreesboro Road.

Authorities said the skimmers were found after the sheriff’s office got information of someone using a cloned credit card at two Sam’s Club locations in Murfreesboro and Antioch.

Officials said skimmers have most often been placed on pumps at the ends of the service area, since it’s more difficult for people in the store to see.

They added access doors on the pumps should have seals. If that seal has been broken or gone missing, someone possibly tampered with the pump.

Anyone with information on the men in the security photos has been urged to call the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office at 615-790-5554, ext. 3229 or Crime Stoppers at 615-794-4000.

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Man charged after western NY hospital stick-up

A man accused of walking into a hospital emergency room with guns and demanding drugs Saturday morning has been arrested, according to police in Lockport, New York.

Adam Kibler, 24, was charged with first-degree robbery, police said.

Eastern Niagara Hospital told police the man walked into the emergency room at 4:57 a.m. Saturday and demanded drugs. He was armed with two rifles and claimed to have a bomb, police Chief Michael Niethe said.

Police responded immediately and got there while the suspect was still in the building.

The man made off with some items. Police spokeswoman Julie Snyder told CNN he made off with some prescriptions.

The suspect dropped his weapons and a backpack and fled on foot. One of the officers fired two shots at the suspect. Police don’t think he was hit.

A bomb squad determined that an item in a backpack was an inert device.

“We got lucky at that end,” Niethe said. “We recovered a lot of evidence at the scene.”

Niethe said that the hospital was fully locked down for a number of hours and authorities told residents to shelter in place. Those directives were eventually lifted.

“It took a number of hours to search the area,” Niethe said.

Lockport is in Niagara County and is more than 20 miles north of Buffalo.

Images from CNN affiliate WIVB showed a police SWAT team outside the hospital and a helicopter surveying the area.

Police described the suspect as a white male, 6 feet tall with blond hair. He was wearing khaki pants, a khaki shirt and a ski mask.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

The hospital issued a statement saying, “Patients and staff at the facility are safe.”
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Gang members charged with running $414G identity-theft ring

New York City NY April 28 2016 More than three dozen members of a Bloods-affiliated gang were charged Tuesday with running a $414,000 identity-theft ring focused on making purchases with stolen credit card accounts at Barneys, prosecutors said Tuesday.

In all, 39 gang members, who called themselves the “Pop Out Boys,” used stolen bank information it pulled from the Dark Web to create their own credit cards to shop at Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue, said NYPD Inspector Joseph Dowling.

Their gang name referred to their flashy lifestyle. “They sort of pop out, wearing expensive clothes, a lot of popping the cork on champagne bottles,” Dowling said.

One defendant, Larry Dathan, raps under the name Big B’Z, Dowling said. In one song, “Trapping out da Uber,” he raps about using the car service for getting around while committing crimes.

Detectives executed eight search warrants, finding five handguns and five “credit card mills,” which included computers, credit-card making equipment and cash, Dowling said.

Investigators recovered the equipment at the apartments of defendants in Brooklyn and Queens.

“In at least one case, an individual is accused of making nearly twenty trips to the same luxury department store to buy designer clothes and merchandise,” DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.

The suspects bought and resold Goyard handbags and other luxury items, then used the cash to fund nightclub outings and trips to Miami, California and Georgia, police said.

Dowling said the crew has 59 members, with ages ranging from 16 to the 30s.

Detectives caught wind of the alleged fraud while investigating another case at Barneys. They saw some of the defendants shopping with a stack of credit cards, Dowling said.

If one didn’t work, they’d use another one,” he said.

Younger gang members, millennials in particular, have been moving towards credit card and identity theft crimes because they grew up using computers, Dowling said.

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Two New York Men Arraigned On Wire Fraud Charges

NEWARK N.J. – Two New York men who allegedly defrauded credit card companies of hundreds of thousands of dollars are expected to appear in court later today, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Nikolay Krechet, 45, of Queens, New York, and James Olla, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. They were originally charged by complaint on May 28, 2015, and indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 18, 2016. They both arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court and entered pleas of not guilty.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From January 2014 to August 2015, Krechet, Olla, and others procured stolen information related to credit cards belonging to various individuals, including a victim living in New Jersey. Using this stolen information, the conspirators obtained gift cards from various retailers and then either sold the cards or used them to purchase goods, which they then sold.

Each count of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Pleasant; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the director of Assistant Inspector in Charge James R. Buthorn, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Svetlana M. Eisenberg of the General Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Devlin of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.

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