Harwood Heights seminar will offer anti-crime tips
Father Fred Tomzik, Dave Disselhorst, Mario Ricchio, John Kovalcik and Kevin Stenson after a 911 memorial service at the Norwood Park fire station. | Stacia Timonere/for Sun-Times Media
“We’d rather would have you call us beforehand than having us respond after the fact. There’s no shame in being leery, especially since crooks are becoming more savvy.”
— Harwood Heights Police Cmdr. John DeVries
Updated: April 1, 2013 7:09AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Anyone can become the victim of a scam.
Explaining those scams, and ways to avoid becoming a victim, will be the topic of a free seminar at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at Union Ridge School, 4600 N. Oak Park Ave. in Harwood Heights.
Led by the Harwood Heights Police Department, those attending will learn how to stand up and protect themselves.
“We do this once a month at the Norridge Park District,” noted Cmdr. John DeVries about the safety workshops, “but this time, we’re going into more detail.”
The seminar will end with a question-and-answer session.
The purpose of the seminar is to give residents the information they need to be aware, prepared and able to protect themselves from becoming victims, explained Village President Arlene Jezierny.
Since scammers are becoming more sophisticated, appearing in uniform and driving old utility trucks, DeVries said residents need to become more aware.
He suggested residents take the time to check the identity of the person at the door.
“We’d rather would have you call us beforehand than having us respond after the fact,” De Vries said. “There’s no shame in being leery, especially since crooks are becoming more savvy.
“Call 911,” DeVries said, “We are more than happy to respond.”
Residents also should not succumb to intimidation, which caused one resident to lose a lifetime of savings, he noted.
Age-old scams that still work include one in which a person distracts the resident while an accomplice ransacks the home and the lottery scam in which the criminal convinces the victim to withdraw money in return for receiving a larger sum of money once the ticket is cashed in.
A new ruse involves ATM machines in which a device withholds money from a transaction.
“How many people count their money?” asked Chief of Public Safety Mario Ricchio. “When the person finally figures out he’s been scammed, the money’s gone.
“Forty bucks here, 40 bucks there,” he said. “It adds up.”
On the home front, officers will address the best ways to secure doors and windows, including the best types of locks for the purpose.
The seminar also will touch on the prosecution system and how the court system works.
“Cases can be hard to prosecute,” Ricchio said. “I don’t think people realize what goes on in court.”
In addition, officers will touch upon procedures to follow in case of emergencies such as a house fire or severe weather.
That discussion will focus identifying, in advance, evacuation routes and places to meet, Ricchio said.
Union Ridge Superintendent John Kosirog is on the agenda to discuss school emergency preparedness.
“We meet with all the school districts at annual safety panel meetings,” Ricchio said.
Another topic of the seminar will be the benefits of the Neighborhood Watch program.