Possible Transient Crime Activity
Somerset Borough Police are currently investigating what may possibly be related to transient criminal activity. On Monday, July 7th, police began receiving calls concerning young men going door to door selling magazine subscriptions. It was immediately determined that the subjects were soliciting without a license, a violation of a Borough ordinance. However, of greater concern was the fact that in addition to soliciting magazine subscriptions, the men had been instructed to collect as much information about the household and its residents as possible.
The men were directed by their employers to attempt to find out through conversation items of information such as how many people lived in the residence, the occupations of members of the household, marital status of household members, etc. The men were to be rewarded with cash bonuses determined on the amount and type of information they obtained. For instance, certain point values are attached to various types of occupations. Identity of entrepreneurs, lawyers, and physicians are rewarded with a certain amount of points while service workers and tradesmen identities are assigned another point value. The subjects have been advised that certain high profile positions, e.g. police officers, lawyers and correction officers carry the highest point value. Upon accumulation of certain point levels the young men are promised cash and travel awards.
It appears that the subjects are staying in Pittsburgh area motels and are brought to Somerset on a daily basis in Ford Econoline vans, usually white, probably with out-of-state plates. The solicitors are then dropped off in Somerset for the day, returning by van to Pittsburgh in the evening. The solicitors identify themselves as being employed by entities such as M.A.D. (Making the American Dream) Crew and National Cash Awards Contest. Initial investigation has determined that this activity may be part of a larger, organized transient crime network occurring across Pennsylvania and other mid-Atlantic states. While the solicitors represent little threat to the resident, they may be soliciting information that could be used in the commission of future crimes. In other words, the solicitation of information may be used to target future victims of burglary or theft, including identity theft.
Residents are advised to take the following precautions and actions:
- If residents observe any activity as noted above occurring in their neighborhood, call 911 immediately to report it to police and ask for a police response to investigate the activity;
- If residents are approached at their homes by individuals engaged in solicitation, they have the right to refuse to engage and advise the subject to leave their property. They should then immediately call 911 for a police response. Police strongly suggest that residents not engage with the individuals.
- Residents may also contact Somerset Borough Police to obtain an adhesive sticker they may post in a prominent place (on their door or mailbox) to advise solicitors that they are not welcome on the property.
- Other useful information for residents in protecting themselves against crime may be found at www.somersetborough.com/police.