Sources: Gulfport Police Department and Pinellas County Crime Viewer
Gulfport Police Say to Verify Suspicious Calls
By Debbie Wolfe
If you receive a phone call from someone who wants money, to avoid becoming a victim of fraud “verify everything,” says Gulfport Detective Sergeant Thomas Woodman.
His advice is echoed by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. In the past week, deputies began encouraging the public to be on alert to telephone scams occurring in the county though Woodman says he is unaware of any Gulfport residents recently falling victim to this type of fraud.
Citizens are advised to not give personal information, bank or credit card account information over the phone when they are called.
Additionally, Woodman and the deputies encourage local people to report any suspicious activity by calling the non-emergency law enforcement phone line at 727-582-6200.
“Most people from companies or law enforcement agencies are not going to pressure you to make an immediate decision or payment by phone,” said Woodman. “If you’re in doubt, check them out.”
Woodman advises people to hang up the phone, research the telephone number and call the actual business or law enforcement agency the caller claims to be from.
“Do not use the phone number the caller provides to you,” said Woodman. “The worst-case scenario is that somebody shows up to your door that is legitimate, but at least you’re not going to be an actual victim of fraud.”
According to the sheriff’s office public information deputy, the current phone scams involve callers who claim to be from Duke Energy or the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Woodman says in most phone fraud cases “it is typical for the caller to sound angry. They try to pressure you to make an immediate decision or payment. They won’t let you get off the phone. These are serious red flags.”
The current phone scams are being investigated by the sheriff’s office.
2/22 – Robbery near the intersection of 20th Avenue South and 49th Street South. A resident reported that after leaving a nearby bar, a white male hit her in the face with a board and bricks. She reported her cell phone and prescription pills stolen.
2/23 – Criminal mischief in the 2600 block of Beach Boulevard. A resident reported that sometime overnight someone damaged solar landscaping lights that he had recently placed in his front yard.
2/24 – Vehicle impounds in the 2800 to 3100 block of Beach Boulevard. A total of eight cars were impounded and several others removed by drivers because they parked in the special zone for the annual Gulfport Get Rescued event.
2/24 – Found property on Gulfport Beach. A city employee found an urn containing ashes. Officer Clague was able to locate the spouse and return it.
2/24 – Attempted robbery in the 1800 block of 51st Street South. Two juveniles knocked a resident off his bicycle and attempted to take the bags he was carrying. They left the area without the bags. The resident sustained a minor injury when he fell to the ground. The two juveniles were later located at McDonald’s where the resident identified them in a field show-up. The juveniles initially denied any involvement. They admitted to being there a short while later, but denied they were trying to rob the victim. Both were transported to the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center and their parents were notified.
2/25 – Armed person in the 1800 block of 55th Street South. Officers were dispatched regarding an armed person call at Tomlinson Park. A juvenile female was said to be armed with a knife and wearing a mask. She was apparently frightening other juveniles at the park. Officers arrived on scene and made contact with the female. It was determined that the juvenile did not have any intentions of hurting anyone. She had apparently watched YouTube videos and was mimicking the behavior from the videos. The juvenile was released to the custody of her parents.
2/26 – Traffic arrest in the 1000 block of 58th Street South. An officer observed a vehicle blocking the entrance to Boca Ciega High School during morning drop off. Officer Pope conducted a traffic stop and the driver, Dwayne McNeal, had a suspended identification card as he never had a driver’s license issued. McNeal was arrested for no valid driver’s license.
2/26 – Burglary to a vehicle in the 1400 block of 62nd Street South. A resident observed two suspects getting into a car and when confronted the suspects ran away. Gulfport officers and a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit responded to the area and the two suspects, both juveniles, were both eventually located. They were interviewed at the Gulfport Police Department and both juveniles admitted to the vehicle burglary and provided additional information about crimes in St Petersburg. St Petersburg Police Department detectives also conducted interviews, which led to information on cases in their jurisdiction. Both juveniles were charged with vehicle burglary and possession of burglary tools.
2/27 – Theft near the intersection of Shore Boulevard and 56th Street South. A taxi driver reported that a woman failed to pay her fare. The suspect, Ada Lewis, was located and was not able to pay the fare so she was arrested.
2/28 – Retail felony theft at 5015 Gulfport Boulevard South. Save A lot reported that a white male fled from the store with a backpack containing stolen items. He was located several blocks away. He initially lied about his name, however, a fingerprint scanner revealed his correct name to be Dennis Mills. He had prior theft convictions so he was arrested for felony retail theft and for providing a false name to law enforcement officers.
2/28 – Warrant arrest in the 2000 Block of 49th Street South. Officer Carter made contact with Dino Blake who had an active retail theft warrant from 1991. The warrant was confirmed and he was arrested.
Burglary – vehicle
2/25, 11 a.m., 7100 block of South Shore Drive S
Theft – grand
2/25, 2 p.m., 6800 block of Park Street S