Fraud in Park City: caseload drops sharply from the depths of recession
The spike in the number of fraud complaints reported to the Park City Police Department during the recession eased slightly in 2010, the department said in its annual crime report, but the caseload remained significantly higher last year than it was in the years before the economic turmoil.
The Police Department last year fielded 67 complaints about some sort of fraud, an average of more than one every week. The total was the lowest since the 46 that were reported in 2007. The 67 complaints dropped from the 99 reported in 2009 and the 90 that were filed in 2008.
The report does not detail the nature of the fraud reports. The cases were initially filed under the fraud category, and are tallied as such in the annual crime report, but they later might have been reclassified or have been found unsubstantiated, the police caution.
Police Chief Wade Carpenter said it is typical for there to be an increase in fraud complaints during down economic times, a reason for the spike in 2009 and 2008. He said many of the cases reported as fraud in 2009 and 2008 some involving the lodging industry — turned out to be civil disputes instead of criminal actions.
The police chief said many of the fraud complaints filed in 2010 were within one of several categories, including:
"I think that we’re not as big of a target as we originally were," Carpenter said.
He noted that many recent contracts between the owners of rental units and property-management firms have been drafted to prohibit the firms from shifting certain monies due to the owners elsewhere within a company. That practice is believed to have been a contributor to the increase in fraud complaints in the earlier years.
Other highlights of the annual police report include:
"I truly believe high-profile policing is a deterrent," Carpenter said about the overall drop in reports of major crimes, explaining that police officers are working their beats on foot and on bicycle more often than they were before.
He said foot patrols and bicycle patrols are prevalent along the Rail Trail, the Main Street district and in neighborhoods. Those sorts of patrols give officers the opportunity to observe problems, such as streetlights that are not working, that might induce criminal activity.
Meanwhile, the number of citations climbed sharply, with the Police Department issuing 10,103 in 2010. Carpenter said the overwhelming number of citations involved traffic offenses. The number was the most since at least 2000.
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