Scams, burglaries increase in Tupelo

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Police report an increase in auto burglaries and the emergence of pigeon drop scams throughout the city over the past few weeks.
According to Tupelo Police Capt. Chuck Bunn, people need to pay more attention to protecting themselves and their property.
“We’ve seen some crimes like auto burglaries really increase recently and others like pigeon drop scams start up,” said Bunn. “The citizens need to be more careful than ever about who they trust these days because the criminals are really trying to take advantage of them right now.”
In June, police reported 28 auto burglaries. Through the first two weeks of July, police have handled 28 auto burglaries.
The pigeon drop scams are relatively new to the area, which makes them more dangerous.
This type of scam usually happens in the parking lot of a mall or shopping area, according to Bunn. A well-dressed young woman approaches a selected victim, usually an older woman.
The scam artist will claim to have found a bag or briefcase containing money and inquire about the ownership of it. A second suspect will approach and tell them she works for an attorney and will seek his advice.
The pair of thieves will persuade the victim to give them cash to secure her part of the found money.
Secret shopper scams are also showing up in the Tupelo area. Potential victims are contacted via the Internet. They receive a check and are instructed to cash it, buy selected items at predetermined locations and send the remaining money to the caller.
The checks are fraudulent. Scam victims will be held responsible by the bank for the amount of the bad check.
Bunn said people can lower their chances of being victimized by burglaries and scams.
“Best rule to go by is that if someone offers you money and it sounds too good to be true, then don’t mess with it,” said Bunn. “No one is going to give you a $5,000 check for no reason.
“As for car burglaries, lock your doors and keep valuables out of plain sight. That’s really all you can do. Burglary is a crime of opportunity. If you make it convenient for them, a thief is going to take advantage of it.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.