Forum Index > Trail Talk > Spring 2022: Solutions to Trail head break ins. Are there any?
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Cyclopath
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Cyclopath
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 7:15 pm 
breadcrumb wrote:
Separate from any restrictions on purchasing, the legislature could enact a law requiring retailers to obtain high definition photos of unmasked faces in order to purchase a gift card.
I'm sure gift cards are used often to launder money. They can be convenient as presents for people who are hard to shop for, but society wouldn't crumble if we lost that. FYI: do you know much about Bitcoin? To buy or sell the stuff, exchanges operating in the US are required to take a copy of the customer's ID. For crime fighting reasons. The reason I bring this up, local bitcoins is a website like Craigslist for trading in BC and avoiding exchanges. I'm not saying your idea is bad or won't work. I'm saying be aware of this, maybe you can come up with a way to prevent it with gift cards.

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zephyr
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 7:31 pm 
breadcrumb wrote:
I'm still gathering data and won't have my formal analysis done for a few months. Preliminary observations:
breadcrumb... your work is inspiring to say the least. Thanks for your efforts. Please explain for me the relationship between gift cards and the smash and grab. Are the gift cards being purchased with the victims' bankcards that might be left in people's cars? Sorry I am just a little slow sometimes. ~z

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Secret Agent Man
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 7:40 pm 
zephyr wrote:
breadcrumb... your work is inspiring to say the least. Thanks for your efforts. Please explain for me the relationship between gift cards and the smash and grab. Are the gift cards being purchased with the victims' bankcards that might be left in people's cars? Sorry I am just a little slow sometimes. ~z
Gift cards are a popular way to convert a stolen debit/credit card into cash. Letís say I stole your credit card - I can buy stuff with it, but within a pretty short amount of time youíll report it stolen and now itís a worthless piece of plastic. If I use it to buy a ton of Amazon.com gift cards before you report the theft, I can either use those gift cards myself without having to worry about them being canceled, or I can resell them for 75 cents on the dollar and convert them to cash that I can do anything with.

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zephyr
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zephyr
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PostFri Aug 26, 2022 10:05 pm 
Secret Agent Man wrote:
Gift cards are a popular way to convert a stolen debit/credit card into cash. Letís say I stole your credit card
Got it. Thanks for explaining this to me in such a clear manner. Yes, this is a related problem. This would show up in other similar crimes--like locker room theft. ~z

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breadcrumb
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 12:07 pm 
Malachai Constant wrote:
Breadcrumb I thing you cracked the code. This is not a political matter no matter how hard some want it to be. The restrictions on gift cards could help with a lot of on line scams like grandparent, IRS, and lottery ones also. I think cat thefts seem to be going downhill at least I hope so.
Thanks! Here's one data point: KCSO car theft stats taken from their online open data set: 2018*: 399 2019: 678 2020: 1,930 2021: 1,479 2022: 732 * KCSO changed databases in 2018. The 2018 data is incomplete. Turning to known trailhead crimes (statewide), here are the stats I have in my logs about car thefts at trailheads (statewide): 2015: 21 2016: 18 2017: 20 2018: 25 2019: 43 2020: 18 2021: 41 2022: 20

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Anne Elk
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 5:01 pm 
breadcrumb wrote:
here are the stats I have in my logs about car thefts at trailheads (statewide):
One thing I wonder about - if on a single day 12 cars are broken into at a trailhead, does that account for one incident, or 12?

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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breadcrumb
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 5:06 pm 
Anne Elk wrote:
breadcrumb wrote:
here are the stats I have in my logs about car thefts at trailheads (statewide):
One thing I wonder about - if on a single day 12 cars are broken into at a trailhead, does that account for one incident, or 12?
That counts as at least 12 crimes. If each of the 12 cars were vandalized in the process, then there would be 24 crimes.

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Randito
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PostSat Aug 27, 2022 5:33 pm 
Cyclopath wrote:
I'm sure gift cards are used often to launder money.† They can be convenient as presents for people who are hard to shop for, but society wouldn't crumble if we lost that.
The citizenry would certainly be OK, retailers would put up substantial resistance to restricting or eliminating gift cards. The redemption rate of gift cards is shockingly low, so for retailers gift cards are a highly profitable item.

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breadcrumb
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PostFri Sep 09, 2022 6:30 pm 
The more I read official police reports related to trailhead crime, the more I am convinced that retailers (like QFC, Safeway, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's) are an unwitting culprit and contributor to vehicle prowls. Allow me to explain. There are retailers who issue gift cards in their own name. Example: I don't know if there are REI gift cards, but if there are, then REI is a "card issuer." There are also retailers who sell gift cards. I'll call them "card sellers." All card issuers are card sellers, but notice that card sellers may sell gift cards issued by other stores. (I suppose it also possible for there to be a card seller who isn't an issuer; I don't know if any stores fit this category.) I have no data whatsoever to back this up, but I am very confident that gift cards are hugely profitable to both card issuers and card sellers. Card issuers love them because (1) cards which do get used are usually used weeks if not months after purchase, giving the card issuer an interest-free loan; and (2) cards which are lost are a gift to the store. Meanwhile card sellers are more than happy to sell them because they take up little shelf space. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if sellers they get a certain amount of markup on the cards. All of this is fine and dandy except for one major problem. Card issuers and sellers reap all the benefits, while consumers bear most of the risk. Suppose your credit cards are stolen from your locked vehicle and used to successfully purchase several gift cards before you (or your bank) cancels your credit cards. The credit card companies usually eat the cost of the fraudulent transaction. But that doesn't make you, as the victim, whole again. That doesn't compensate you for:
  • the cost and time involved with any vehicle repairs (such as cleaning up glass, getting the glass replaced, the value of your time spent dealing with the glass company)
  • the monetary value of your time spent on the phone with the credit card company
  • the monetary value of any other items stolen from your vehicle
  • the monetary value of your time spent replacing important documents, such as a driver's license, state ID card, military ID card, passport, vehicle registration, insurance cards, etc.
To make matters worse, the victim of a smash and grab may not even have a relationship whatsoever with the retailer(s) where their stolen debit/credit cards were used. (It's not like victims have any control over the stores where a thief uses stolen debit/credit cards.) This isn't fair; we need to fix this massive imbalance of risk and reward. Here's one way to do that. BY DEFAULT, any card seller who processes fraudulent debit/credit card transactions is responsible for compensating victims for their total loss, including all of the bullet points listed above. Retailers can avoid this liability by either choosing to stop selling gift cards altogether OR voluntarily agreeing to do both of the following:
  • Requiring strong authentication for all purchases of gift cards (such as scanning the bar code on a driver's license like pharmacies do when you purchase Sudafed and/or requiring 2-factor authentication).
  • Providing law enforcement and victims usable video surveillance footage of the suspects who fraudulently purchased gift cards in their store. By "usable," I mean unobstructed 4K video surveillance footage of the suspect's face. This video footage must be provided upon request within 48 hours or the retailer gets to reimburse the victim for their total losses involved with the crime(s) which preceded the gift card purchase. I'm sick and tired of reading police reports where the police contact the loss prevention officer at a retailer like QFC or Home Depot, the loss prevention officer says they have the video and promises to email it to the police, and then they never actually email it. Not providing the video should be equivalent to never recording the video in the first place = the retailer eats the victim's costs.
Retailers will certainly strongly oppose (and hate) my idea. At least the big ones will claim that they already gather surveillance video and cooperate with police. But notice that claim is just that: a mere claim or assertion, in need of supporting evidence. My data suggests the picture isn't nearly so rosy. I am confident that if retailers found themselves suddenly liable for the mess they have enabled, they would either stop selling gift cards OR they would magically figure out a way to implement good store security measures, measures which would reduce fraudulent purchases AND make it easier for police to catch the people who do that. Also, notice that this proposal would benefit pretty much everyone, not just hikers and climbers. Thoughts?

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Anne Elk
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PostFri Sep 09, 2022 7:17 pm 
breadcrumb wrote:
Requiring strong authentication for all purchases of gift cards (such as scanning the bar code on a driver's license like pharmacies do when you purchase Sudafed and/or requiring 2-factor authentication).
Sure, that might help. But all your other ideas seem like kicking the can down the road. Some in this forum are old enough to remember when you had to sign a slip for every credit card purchase and (if the retailer was doing their job) they compared the purchaser's signature to the signature on the credit card. For reasons not clear, CC companies have decided that for "incidental" purchases it's not necessary to sign (each retailer seems to have different $$ amts for that). There are a lot of people who have their wallets stolen/lost thru no fault of their own, or a genuine accident. But I have no sympathy for people who leave their wallets in their cars. Also, I don't store gift cards in my wallet. If I get a GC for Crate & Barrel, I keep it at home until I'm going there.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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breadcrumb
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PostFri Sep 09, 2022 8:23 pm 
Anne Elk wrote:
breadcrumb wrote:
Requiring strong authentication for all purchases of gift cards (such as scanning the bar code on a driver's license like pharmacies do when you purchase Sudafed and/or requiring 2-factor authentication).
Sure, that might help. But all your other ideas seem like kicking the can down the road. Some in this forum are old enough to remember when you had to sign a slip for every credit card purchase and (if the retailer was doing their job) they compared the purchaser's signature to the signature on the credit card. For reasons not clear, CC companies have decided that for "incidental" purchases it's not necessary to sign (each retailer seems to have different $$ amts for that). There are a lot of people who have their wallets stolen/lost thru no fault of their own, or a genuine accident. But I have no sympathy for people who leave their wallets in their cars. Also, I don't store gift cards in my wallet. If I get a GC for Crate & Barrel, I keep it at home until I'm going there.
This reply has me scratching my head. I am not trying to solve the problem of stolen gift cards. I am trying to solve the problem of stolen debit or credit cards being used to fraudulently purchase gift cards and, in effect, launder money.

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Randito
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PostFri Sep 09, 2022 8:54 pm 
breadcrumb wrote:
Thoughts?
Credit Card fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry. The Credit Card and Retail interests eat most of the costs because they make so much on the ease of spending that it enables. If people had to pay in cash or by check , there would be much less economic activity and if people were walking around with hundreds or thousands of dollars in their pockets , there would be a lot more muggings. As far as retailers and police are concerned , trailhead theft is small potatoes. A bigger problem they are dealing with lately are organized gangs that come into a mall and grab entire racks of expensive items and run out the door into a waiting van. I doubt any of your ideas for increasing the difficulty of gift card fraud will be adopted. It costs less than a dollar to produce current gift cards, adding a "chip" like what is used in current credit cards would boost those costs considerably. It's not going to happen without legislation, and the corporations largely control what gets through congress.

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Anne Elk
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PostFri Sep 09, 2022 9:13 pm 
breadcrumb wrote:
I am not trying to solve the problem of stolen gift cards. I am trying to solve the problem of stolen debit or credit cards being used to fraudulently purchase gift cards and, in effect, launder money.
Hmm. Maybe you should start a new thread in the Saloon with that as a topic. We do tend to a lot of thread drifting, but this is far, far, far from the OP's topic. tongue.gif

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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