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Precinct 5 PENS April 2021

many 1040 tax forms spread on a desk with a pencil and a calculator
April 20, 2021

Welcome to this month’s PENS, Police Email Notification System bulletin. This monthly bulletin is brought to you from the Cobb County Police, Precinct 5 Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU5) and is designed to keep you aware of safety alerts and crime trends in your area and measures you can take to keep you and your family safe.

Public Safety Topic of the Month

Steps to Avoid Tax-Return Identity Theft

  • Leave your Social Security card at home: Thieves use your stolen SSN to file a fraudulent tax return early in the tax season before you're likely to file, and then they pocket the refund.
  • Keep your Social Security Number private: Provide your SSN to others only when absolutely necessary—don’t give it out just because a business asks for it or over email. Also check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually to make sure all your information is accurate.
  • Use strong passwords: You don't have to be tech-savvy to protect your accounts from hackers. Start by choosing a strong, unique password each financial site you use, such as online banking or brokerage accounts. Don't have your computer automatically save passwords, especially on work computers, and change passwords regularly.
  • Protect against computer spam and viruses: Take advantage of the security software updates your operating system offers, and make it a habit to use a firewall and anti-spam and anti-virus software.
  • Keep financial information private: Be wary of providing personal information over the phone or through the mail. Unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know the person you're talking to, it's better just to say no.
  • Beware of Phishing: Phishing is a term for online scams that use official-looking emails that seem to come from the IRS or your bank, but are actually from thieves seeking your SSN, bank account information, or passwords. The IRS won't call you to tell you that you owe taxes; they will send you a letter.
  • Shred bank and tax documents: Consider your tax documents, receipts, and bank statements as potential trapdoors that allow entrance into your personal life. Dispose of these financial documents safely shred them.
  • Lock your mailbox: Getting a locking mailbox can prevent someone from checking to see what mail you've received. Since letters may contain private financial information, a locking mailbox can also help to prevent identity theft.

Current Crime Trends

Entering Autos

Ladies and Gentlemen, our current crime trends continue to be Entering Autos. The bulk of the Entering Autos are taking place overnight and early in the morning. The majority of all the Entering Autos have been UNLOCKED vehicles with valuables including guns left inside. PLEASE remove all valuables especially guns from your vehicles every time you park and leave the vehicle. During these Entering Autos, we had several vehicles that were also stolen. The perpetrators were able to steal the vehicles because victims had left their Key Fobs inside the vehicles. Even if you hide the Key Fob it still allows the perpetrator to hit the push-button start and leave with the vehicle. Remove all keys and key fobs before leaving your vehicle. Also, double check that ALL vehicle doors are locked.

If you observe someone breaking into vehicles do not approach them and immediately call 911.  From a safe place provide 911 with an accurate description of the suspects, involved vehicles, and what direction the suspect is going. NO property is worth getting hurt over.

Pine Straw Scam

Cobb County Police Precinct 5 Criminal Investigation Unit would like to pass along some information regarding a Pine Straw Scam that has been going on in Cobb County for the past year.

How the Scam Works:

Workers approach homeowners and explain they are in the area working, have extra pine straw, then offer to sell and spread the pine straw for approximately $4.00 per bale. Depending on the size of the yard, the agreement is to spread approximately 10-50 bales of pine straw.

At some point, the workers contact the homeowner and say that they will take more pine straw than anticipated to complete the job. The homeowner agrees with the assumption it will only take a few more bales to complete the job.

When the workers finish the job, they advise the homeowner they installed approximately 4 times the bales the homeowner anticipated. The workers then try to collect several thousands of dollars for the work they claim they did. In most of the cases, the homeowners start negotiating a rate higher than agreed upon initially, but lower than the workers are asking simply to get them to leave.

Avoiding the Scam:

  • Use extreme caution when dealing with walk-up salespeople.
  • Ask them for a business card or website so that you can research the business before they start the work.
  • If possible, obtain the business name, employee names, phone numbers, and tag numbers.
  • Check for a Cobb County Business License and Better Business Bureau review.
  • If it is a verbal agreement, record the conversation, agree on the specific work that you want to be done, and agree on a specific final price before any work starts.
  • Trying to save a few dollars is not worth it. Use a local reputable company that is established, licensed, and insured.
  • If you feel that you are being scammed or intimidated to pay a higher amount immediately call 911 to have the issue reported and hopefully resolved.

What You Can Do

Burglary Prevention

  • Lock your doors, including the one from the garage
  • Keep garage doors closed-check before bed every night
  • Motion sensor activated lighting
  • Surveillance cameras

Entering Auto Prevention

  • Lock your vehicles and remove items of value and items that appear to contain valuables.
  • If you can’t keep them with you, secure your valuables in the trunk before reaching your location.
  • Keep your vehicle locked and your purse or wallet on your person while fueling at the gas station.

Postal Theft

  • Anti-Theft mailboxes with a special locking system
  • Security Cameras
  • Do not raise the mail flag
  • Do not send cash, checks, or anything that has credit card information

Remember to CALL 911 to report any suspicious persons or activity. If you see something, say something!

Cobb County Camera Registry

The Cobb County Police Camera Registration program is a police/community video partnership that operates on a voluntary basis with homeowners, neighborhoods and business owners who own private video surveillance systems. We encourage both businesses and residents to register their cameras online by completing the form below.

This program is intended to let our officers know where cameras are active in the county in case a crime occurs. It is not intended for active surveillance, and officers will not have direct access to homeowners' cameras. Those who register a camera will be contacted if a crime occurs in the vicinity of that camera.

Information provided by residents and businesses will be maintained in a secure database.

Online Registration Form


If you have not already signed up to receive the monthly PENS updates, please subscribe. Feel free to forward this e-mail to your HOA members and local businesses.

PENS is also sending out bulletins and alerts through its partnership with Discover if your neighborhood is already signed up so you may join. If not, they will provide you with the necessary information.

Stay Safe,

Det. Lieutenant J.B Wade
Det. Sergeant W.R. Pettitt

Cobb County Police Department
Criminal Investigation Unit Pct. 5
4640 Dallas Highway
Powder Springs, GA 30127
(770) 499-4578

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