New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 3, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
6A Q Herald-Zeitumg □ Sunday, August 3,1997
SALT working to keep seniors free of crime
By ABE LEVY
HOW TO AVOID BOGUS SENIOR SERVICES
Sixty-three-year-old Bill Brown gets phone calls all the time.
Their usually from telephone marketers who target his age group for construction jobs, vacation packages and anything else to spur the interest of the predominantly retired market.
“I just put it off. I got one the other day where I had won a trip to the Caribbean. I told him I’ll believe it when I see it and he hung up on me,” Brown said with a laugh. “They’ll pressure you all the time and ask you to FedEx money.”
He said phone callers prey on the sympathies of seniors bec*”0* .ney know many of iKm.i nave large savings ac*. slay inside most of the day and are willing to listen to a sales pitch.
In an effort to combat this situation and bring greater awareness to other seniors, Brown is joining a local effort called SALT, Seniors And Law Enforcement Together.
A New Braunfels mayor from 1974 to 1975, Brown agreed to chair a nine-member committee that will direct activities for SALT. The remaining members will be seniors from across county.
The group will have a slide presentation and offer a booth with information at this year’s National Night Out kick-off at 7 p.m. Monday
New Braunfels Police officials said local scam artists have solicited bogus service to do tree trimming, paving work, home repair and financial investments. Bogus telephone marketers have targeted Comal County seniors with vacation trips, financial investments, home siding work and almost any-other product, they said.
They offered the following tips on how seniors can combat scam artists who call them at home or go by door to door in an attempt to sell seniors bogus services.
■ Do not pay for any service up front or in part. Wait until after you
receive the service.
■ Ask for many references and seek advice from family, friends and local business leaders and include them in the salesperson's discussion.
■ Take your time, a.sk lots of questions and do not be pressured into the deal.
■ Call city hall or the appropriate state agency to verify licenses.
■ Do not give out credit card numbers and bank account numbers in person or over the phone.
■ Just say no to telephone marketers if you are not interested.
■ Report suspicious activity or victimization to local police.
at the Civic Center, 380 S. Seguin Ave.
The group is the result of a partnership, called Triad, that includes members of the senior citizens community, the New Braunfels Police Department, the Comal County Sheriffs Office and the Garden Ridge Police Department. The Senior Citizens Center and the Alamo Area Council of Governments are also involved in the effort.
Triads exist at the local, state and national levels and are endorsed by seniors groups and national police organizations which unite to form a cooperative effort.
On a practical basis, SALT members would serve as advisors to the top police management,
suggesting services to address the needs of seniors in the area, organizers said.
So far the group has met several times with up to 40 people attending.
Organizers said no fund raising had been necessary because the entire effort was made possible through volunteers.
With Comal County projected to grow to almost 12,000 seniors older than 65 years in the next three years, the group is needed to combat senior scams.
“The difficulty is reaching (seniors) in a proactive and preventative way. A lot of these people don’t get oui much,” said Ray Douglas, New Braunfels Police chief. “They stay near their home or
complex and have a small group to socialize with.”
Local law enforcement officials said they were glad the group had taken shape and hoped it would stop the victimization of seniors by getting the word out.
They said the group would help encourage seniors to fight scam artists by asking questions and using other resources, officials said.
“These people work pressure and they know the best hours to intimidate (seniors),” said Don Ferguson, assistant to the city manager and spokesman for the Safe City Commission. “If you play 20 questions with them, you’ll know the validity of the salesperson.” Seventy-seven-year-old Joe Barbour of New Braunfels said he felt safe here and that he still practiced common sense to avoid being a victim of crime.
“Compared to the national averages, crime in New Braunfels is at a minimum but it’s at a minimum because we have a good sheriff and the presence of law enforcement is
SALT TO MEET MONDAY
Organizers of SALT, a group designed to reduce senior crime in the area, plan to make a slide presentation, give briefings and offer printed information at the National Night Out Kick-Off at 7 p.m. Monday at the New Braunfels Civic Center, 380 §. Seguin Ave.
The event is sponsored by the Safe City Commission and to obtain more information, call the New Braunfels Police Department at 608-2179 or the Comal County Sheriffs Office at 620-3400..
known,” he said.
Barbour, a retired gas equipment talesman, said he receives phone calls from telephone marketers on a daily basis and he simply tells them “No” or hangs up.
“I say, if you’re trying to sell me something, I’m not interested.’ I want to deal with a person whom I know,” he said. “They have no interest in your welfare. They just want to make money. Sometimes they are hard to get rid of.”
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Kolbe works with neighborhood watch groups in the county from Bulverde to Canyon Lake to Garden Ridge. Armed with information and crime prevention videotapes, hie teaches citizens the best ways to reduce the chance of being robbed or burglarized.
Kolbe said the people is the key in the fight against crime.
“We want them to be the eyes and ears,” Kolbe said. “The main thing is to get folks to meet each other (in the neighborhoods and subdivisions).”
Sheriffs Office Lt. David Ott said most of the crimes and incidents committed in the Canyon Lake area theft, traffic violations, drinking while intoxicated, drug offenses, public intoxication and shoplifting were committed during the summer when more people came to the lake and the Guadalupe River to enjoy the water activities.
“We can easily match our population — 150,000 people (on a good holiday) is not unusual,” Kolbe said.
Ott said many Canyon Lake area burglaries were committed by juveniles out of school during the summer months.
While Canyon Lake experiences crime related to the influx of new people and summer tourists, Bulverde suffers from burglars from San Antonio who prey on homes.
“The burglaries go up (U.S. Highway) 281,” Kolbe said. is r pipeline from San Antonio. I h„ pickings are easier. There is more space, more people are moving out that way and moving stuff”
When it comes to preventing en me, residents should look out for their neighbors, Ott said.
“We need to have the public aware what’s going on,” Ott said. “We are not everywhere, but people are.” Kolbe said more often than not people on their own blocks don’t even know their own neighbors.
"In any subdivision, four to five times out of IO, people don’t know the folks around the block," Kolbe said, “lf you don’t know the person personally and if you don’t know anything about their lives, how do you know if it’s someone cleaning the carpet or a burglary?
“We see a lot more people witness a crime. We are trying to increase our chance of capturing a criminal in the activity or soon after by increasing citizens’ reportability ”
Burglars today use sophisticated
equipment, Kolbe said, such as scanners, cellular phones and radios. He said burglars are very smart, sophisticated and work in networks.
“Many times physical evidence is sparse,” Kolbe said. “Many times they haven’t been seen. A lot of times they have been casing (researching) and notice the time when homeowners leave.”
Ott said most burglaries occur when residents least expect them.
“Most of the residential burglaries occur during the daytime from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when most people are at work,” he explained.
The sheriff’s office officials suggest if you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood, simply report it to them immediately.
“Take down identification information such as license plate number, vehicle description and suspect description,” Kolbe said.
Sgt. Russell Brandau said citizens must be persistent when fighting crime.
“Be vigilant, get those observations and contact the necessary law enforcement and maintain an observation at a safe point," Brandau said. “After you call, don’t give up watching.”
Voters flock to early polls
By DENISE DZIUK
Voters have two more days to cast early ballots in two separate elections. Officials in both races said if turnout continued at its current pace total voter turnout would be considerably higher than initially expected.
A special election is being held statewide to determine whether a high exemption will be used in figuring school property taxes.
At the same u.> . the New Braunfels Independent ad.?ol District is filling four seats on its board of trustees. Early voting in both races ends Tuesday.
Comal County elections coordinator Linnell Hinojosa said there would be only one proposition on the Aug. 9 election.
That proposition calls for a constitutional amendment to lighten the burden to school property taxes.
According to the sample ballot, vole;* a:!! h*vp one box to mark, either for or against.
That vote will cover three basic changes to school property tax calculations.
• The first change increases
residents’ homestead exemption from $5,000 to $15,000.
• The second part of the amendment would allow residents 65 and older to transfer their tax freeze to a new house when they move. Currently, residents pay regular taxes the first year, and then the rate is frozen at the new values.
• The third portion would allow residents 65 and older to reduce taxes based on a new formula.
Hinojosa said there were more than 46,000 registered voters in the county.
She said for a special election, an 8 to IO percent turnout is ideal. Hinojosa said 1,599 individuals had voted through Thursday, an unusually large turnout.
“We should have at least 15 or 20 percent by the time it’s finished,” said Hinojosa. “We’re glad we’re having a larger turnout than we originally expected.”
Hinojosa said high turnout could probably be attributed to interest. She said the simultaneous NBISD election was boosting participation in the constitutional election.
In the NBISD election, voters are filling four seats on the board of trustees. Bette Spain is being
challenged by Don Bedford, Frank Panebianco, Stacie Rickel and Yolanda Longoria for two at-large seats. Any NBISD resident can vote in this race.
District I and 4 residents can also vote for the candidate they want to fill that seat. In District I, incumbent Sylvia Sanchez is being challenged by Henry Garza. Bill Biggadike and Deanna Villarreal are facing oft for the remaining term on the District 4 seat, which became vacant in April .vhen then-board president Jaime Padilla resigned.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON COMAL APPRAISAL DISTRICT BUDGET
The Comal Appraisal District will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget for the 1998 fiscal year.
The public hearing will be held on August 18,1997, at 5:30 p.m. A summary of the appraisal district budget follows: /
* The total amount of the proposed budget is $828,915.12.
* The total amount of the increase over the current year’s budget is $35,594.54.
* The number of employees compensated under the proposed budget will be 17 lA.
* The number of employees compensated under the current budget is 17 (full time equivalent).
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The appraisal district is supported solely by payments from | the local taxing units served by the appraisal district.
If approved by the appraisal district board of directors at the [public hearing, this proposed budget will take effect automatically unless disapproved by the governing bodies of the county, school district, and cities served by the appraisal district.
[a copy of the proposed budget is available for public inspection [in the office of each of those governing bodies. A copy is also [available for public inspection at the appraisal district office.
COMAL APPRAISAL DISTRICT 178 E. MILL STREET, SUITE 101 NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS 78130
New Braunfels (830) 625-8597 Canyon Lake/Bulverde 606-1407 Garden Ridge/S.A. 885-4975
Area Code 830 ???
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