Wednesday, December 26, 2012

“Wait a Second – You’re not Santa Claus”

Just before midnight on Christmas Eve, a resident came home to his apartment after being out for the evening and found an unexpected visitor who was still inside. It definitely wasn’t someone in a red suit and a long white beard bringing Christmas cheer, but instead it was a thief wanting to take his stuff.

Upon entering the apartment, the resident observed that the rear sliding glass door was open and items were thrown around everywhere in the apartment. As he stood there in disbelief, he saw a white male wearing a dark jacket and blue jeans run from one room and down the hallway into another. The resident chased the suspect who then proceeded to jump head-first out the bedroom window.

The suspect got away, but not before the victim was able to get a good description of the burglar and relay that information to the responding officers.

While the officers on scene were canvassing the area for the suspect, police dispatch received a call from a nearby resident who advised someone was repeatedly pounding on their door asking for help. The description of the person matched the suspect who had just fled from the victim’s apartment.

The man was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Johnson County Jail to await formal charges from the District Attorney’s Office on aggravated burglary.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Operation Rudolph

They didn’t look like Santa. They didn’t arrive in a sleigh. But this time, when the patrol car entered the neighborhood, it was a good thing. Because this time, it was Officers with the Overland Park Police Department COPPS Unit and volunteers from the NAACP delivering food and gifts to 21 families in Overland Park.

I would say Operation Rudolph was a success. Donations totaling $3850.00 were received from individual officers, the NAACP, and local retail businesses. This allowed each of the 21 families to receive close to $200 in gift cards along with food for the holidays.

See? We do like to give out things other than tickets.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Was yesterday a bit of a challenge for you to get around on the roads?  Now might be a good time to put out a few driving tips for the bad weather days.

According to The Weather Channel website, the best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.

Don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared (TIPS), and that you know how to handle road conditions.

It's helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you're familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner's manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.

5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid...

1. Take your foot off the accelerator.

2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.

3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.

4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.

5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid...

1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.

2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck...

1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.

2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.

3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.

4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.

5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.

6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

7. More Tips

Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vice Sting Results in 8 Arrests on Wednesday Night

The Overland Park Police Department’s Vice Unit is continuing to combat all forms of prostitution within the city. Last night, they conducted a prostitution sting which resulted in the arrests of eight people who were charged with prostitution (3), patronizing a prostitute (3), or promoting prostitution (2).

The Overland Park Police Department will continue to confront vice activity in its hotels, motels and apartment communities. We want to get the message out that you’re taking an increased risk if you come to Overland Park to conduct this type of activity.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Honey, I'm Home

This past weekend two Topeka officers were killed in the line of duty. Last week, first responders entered an elementary school and saw things no one wants to have to even imagine. We hear about how these events affect the people involved and the first responders, but there is a group of people that is sometimes far from our minds and I want to call attention to them.

In every police officer’s life there is a family or group of close friends that is their support group. This is a group that understands what they have signed up for, so to speak. They know that each day their loved one goes to work with their number one goal being to serve their community and still come home at the end of their shift. They also know that when their loved one comes home, there’s a chance they are coming home with the baggage of whatever they have seen on that day’s, or night’s, shift. It takes a special kind of dedication to be there for their officers.

Personally, I have been married for 40 years and also have been a police officer for that entire time. My wife has said that the personal qualities required to be a police officer are ones that also make a good spouse and parent. For this reason, she considers the job a blessing. For my wife, some of the challenges meant dealing with shift work and the conflicts that caused with family events. These are things police officer families learn to work around. Sometimes it meant holidays like Christmas had to wait. Asking that of a young child is a lot, but the children of police officers grow up with an understanding of what their parent does and what is expected of them, as well.

Police officers see things and hear things they will never forget. They sometimes hold these things in and don’t talk about them in an effort to protect their loved ones. It is a balancing act that the family of a police officer has to endure. They must keep the line of communication open so they can support their officer without pushing their officer and being intrusive. When their officer does talk to them, it can mean that the family is now exposed to the same stress as the officer. The difference is, a police officer will sometimes hear, “Thank you for what you do,” while they are out on patrol. The families on the other hand, do not.

I recently told the officers that the job they do is extremely important to the health and well-being of our community. I want you, the families, friends, and colleagues of these officers to know that your support is extremely important to the health and well-being of the officers.

This is my thank you to the families. Your role, while often overshadowed by the story that is told by others, has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for what you do for your loved ones and our protectors.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Detectives Need Your Help to Identify Armed Robbery Suspect

On December 15, 2012, at approximately 5:35 p.m. Overland Park Police responded to the report of an armed robbery at a cell phone store located in the 10200 block of W. 75th Street.

The store employee told officers that a man came into the store, displayed a black handgun, demanded money from the employee and told him to get on the ground. The suspect grabbed the money from the cash register, along with some phones, and then left the scene on foot. The employee was not injured during the robbery.

The suspect is described as a white male, late 20’s, 200 lbs., 5’ 9”, wearing a black hoodie with a red short sleeved striped polo shirt over the hoodie. He was wearing black sunglasses and had no facial hair.

Please take a look at the photos and the surveillance video below. We’re hoping someone may recognize the unique clothing the suspect was wearing at the time of the robbery.

Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to call the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS or the Overland Park Police Department at 913-344-8750.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Anti-Fraud and Theft Initiative Update: Oak Park Mall

Since October 5th, Overland Park Police Detectives have been working at Oak Park Mall as part of our annual Anti-Fraud and Theft Initiative. Detectives assigned to the mall during this time period work undercover, as well as several who serve as a uniformed presence.

Over the weekend (Friday, 12/14 through Sunday, 12/16), there were fourteen arrests made on mall property, with the majority of them involving shoplifters. Of the fifteen arrested, seven were charged with felonies.

In order to be charged with a felony, a suspect would have to have stolen merchandise valued over $1000, or shoplifted from three or more stores within a 72 hour period. An arrest for shoplifting can also be elevated to a felony if the person has two or more prior theft convictions.

There have been a total of 121 arrests during this initiative since October 5th. That number is expected to get higher as we get closer to the holidays.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Results of Yesterday’s Driver Awareness Campaign

Listed below are statistics related to the Driver Awareness Campaign conducted by the Overland Park Police Department on Thursday, December 13th, 2012. The event was conducted during a (6) hour period at various locations in our city. Most of the locations worked were High Accident Locations and Traffic Complaint Areas.

Speeding – 42

Adult Seatbelt – 42

Insurance Violation – 25

Red Light Violation – 24

Right/Left/U-Turn Violations – 26

Improper Turn – 1

Lane Change Violation - 1

Suspended Driver’s License – 3

DL Violations – 12

Other Violations – 5

Tag Violations – 6

Warrant Arrests - 1

Total Stops - 131

Total Citations – 187

The next Driver Awareness Campaign is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013. The primary goals of the monthly enforcement initiatives are to reduce motor vehicle collisions through selective enforcement, education and deterrence.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Don’t Let the Grinch Ruin Your Holiday: Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Travel safely: Make sure everyone wears a seatbelt, and if the weather doesn’t want to cooperate, slow down and give yourself plenty of room. You can’t enjoy the holidays if you don’t arrive safely.

Limit the distractions: Remember driving is a full time occupation. Driving distracted (phone, text, music) is dangerous. Leave the distractions turned off so you can arrive safely.

Out of sight, out of mind: When shopping, conceal packages in the trunk of your vehicle. Leaving all those expensive purchases lying on the back seat in plain view is an open opportunity for a car burglar.

• Shop light: When shopping, just carry the bare minimum. Leave you purse and bulky billfold at home. Carry only a driver license and one or two credit cards. If your credit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately to the credit card company so you will not be responsible for charges you did not make.

• Candle safety: Candles make beautiful decorations, but beware of the fire risk. There are several new candle look-a-likes on the market now that utilize a safe long lasting LED bulb that won’t cause your holiday to go up in smoke.

• Keep gifts out of view. Your family room might look like a Thomas Kinkade painting with the gifts placed around the tree, but this makes short work for a burglar. There are plenty of “Grinches” out there so don’t display gifts openly, especially rooms that can be viewed from your front porch.

• Keep your doors locked: Keep them locked, even when you are at home. Over half of all burglaries occur through unsecured doors. Keep your garage door closed and don’t forget to lock your car even if it is parked in the driveway or garage.

• Know your neighbors: If you plan on being out of town over the holidays let a trusted neighbor or friend know your plans and provide them a phone number just in case. Make sure to arrange to have the trash put out at the curb on trash day, and have the mail picked up or stopped. Don’t forget to shut the water off to your washing machine and have someone do a walk through of your home just in case the furnace goes out. It would ruin the holiday to return home to frozen or broken pipes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Citizen’s Police Academy Graduate Practices Crime Prevention Tip Learned During Class

Late one Saturday evening in October, a recent graduate of our Citizen’s Police Academy had a chance to put to use a crime prevention tip she learned from Crime Prevention Officer Bill Koehn.

The citizen heard her doorbell ring but since it was dark outside she did not feel the need to answer the door or look outside. Thinking back to a presentation on residential security, the citizen remembered videos of a door being kicked in and remarks from Officer Koehn that burglars usually knock on a door or ring a doorbell to see if anyone is home.

The citizen then flipped on the outdoor light to show a potential burglar the home was occupied and asked, “Who’s there?” She looked out the peep hole to see if anyone was around. Seeing nobody outside, the citizen still watched and waited a few minutes until she was sure nobody was outside.

This event also prompted the citizen to review her own residential security features and is preparing to install a more secure jamb brace to her door. If you are unable to participate in our Citizen’s Police Academy, there is another way to procure crime prevention information to secure your home.

Residential security surveys are free to Overland Park residents. During the residential security survey, Officer Koehn can show a video of common burglary methods and how simple preventive measures can diminish the chances of a crime occurring to you. Many homeowners are amazed and entertained by the presentation but, more importantly, receive valuable education regarding residential safety.

To schedule your residential security survey, please contact Officer Koehn at 913-327-6945 or use “OPCARES” on the city’s website

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Driver Awareness Campaign Thursday

In an ongoing effort to keep the roadways safe for the citizens of Overland Park and the thousands of motorists who travel our roadways on a daily basis, officers from the Traffic Safety Unit and TAC unit will team up to work the department's monthly Accident Reduction Initiative.

On Thursday, December 13th, special attention will be given to the following locations:

8:30 AM to 10:00 AM

W. 87th Street & US69 Hwy/Lenexa Drive

W. 75th Street and I-35 Hwy.

10:15 AM to 11:45 AM

College Blvd. & US69 Hwy

I-435 Hwy. & Antioch Road

1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

I-435 Hwy. & Metcalf Ave.

I-435 Hwy. & Nall Ave.

2:45 PM to 3:45 PM

I-435 Hwy. & Roe Ave.

W. 135th Street & US69 Hwy.

The primary goals of the monthly enforcement initiatives are to reduce accidents and to get drivers and passengers to buckle up.

Looking at the crash statistics through November 30th of this year, compared to the same time period last year, accidents have been reduced overall by almost 5%. It is our belief that the monthly traffic enforcement initiatives have played a vital role in that reduction. This is obviously something we hope continues to trend downward.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Help to Identify Suspects in a Burglary

Overland Park Police Detectives are looking for assistance in identifying the suspects of a convenience store burglary. The burglary occurred in the 10300 block of Mastin, on November 24th, 2012, at approximately 3:45 A.M.

Officers responded to the business on an alarm. When they arrived they found that someone had forced entry into the building and damaged a glass display case while targeting cigarettes.

The only suspect descriptions at this time are:

4 total suspects

• Suspect 1: black jacket with hood, charcoal colored pants, white tennis shoes, blue gloves

• Suspect 2: black jacket with hood (hood has grey or white trim); charcoal pants, black lace up high top tennis shoes with white laces and white toe cap; facial covering; multicolored winter pattern cotton gloves; dark backpack with white/light colored straps

• Suspect 3: charcoal or black colored hoodie worn underneath a light grey or white crewneck sweatshirt; dark pants, white tennis shoes

• Suspect 4: unknown clothing description.

Photos of the suspects are below.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS or the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8750.

Friday, December 7, 2012

They Could Be Watching You

Anytime you leave valuables in plain sight inside of your car, you’re increasing the chances that someone is going to break into your vehicle.

With the holiday shopping season already upon us, the opportunity for would-be thieves has increased dramatically. If you’re one of the many people who drop off valuables or recently purchased gifts inside your vehicle, then continue shopping at other stores, then there are a few things you can do to keep yourself from becoming an easy target.

Be alert when walking to and from your car, lock your vehicle and be sure to conceal your purchases by stowing them in the trunk or cover them with a blanket. It’s also a good idea to park in well-lit areas of the parking lot.

Even when trying to do some of the things mentioned above, you can still become a victim, as the example below shows.

On December 6th around 11:00 in the morning, the victim arrived at the mall to do some shopping. She had already been out shopping and had several packages that she had strategically placed in the rear of her vehicle. The packages were set directly behind the driver`s seat and the back seats were pulled down so the packages would be away from direct view.

When the victim later returned, she went directly to the trunk of her vehicle and noticed the rear seats had been pushed to the up-right position. She quickly realized her packages were missing. The victim was confident she had locked the door and was unsure how the suspect got inside. It was obvious she was being watched by the suspect when she arrived and was placing the items in the backseat.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Selective Enforcement: I-435 and Antioch

During the recent review of the High Accident Locations (HALS) for the 3rd quarter of 2012, I-435 Highway and Antioch Road was listed as #9 on the current list. At that time (end of September) the number of accidents was at 34 for the year, and currently sits at 57 through December 1st.

That particular location, as well as the many others on the list, receives constant attention as you can imagine, in order to keep those numbers from getting much higher.

There are a lot of factors that raise the number of accidents at a particular location. Most of them are attributed to the sheer number of vehicles that travel through those intersections, while road construction and speed contribute to them, as well.

Yesterday, four members of our Traffic Safety Unit spent about two hours working the I-435 and Antioch area for various traffic violations, but mainly concentrated on speeding. The area is still under construction to the west and the speed limit drops from 65 to 55mph just east of the Antioch Bridge.

Of the 57 accidents mentioned earlier, the majority of the accidents were rear-end collisions caused by inattentive driving, following too closely and speeding. During yesterday’s enforcement effort, 18 citations were written for speeding. Of those 18, all of them were going at speeds between 74 and 85mph, in a 55mph zone.

Actually, the number of citations could’ve been much higher as there were only three officers making stops while one operated the speed detection device.

The overall mission of our enforcement efforts is to try to change driver behavior. Countless studies have proven that speeding is a major threat to the public’s safety and thus warrants our constant attention.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Same Old Scams - New Victims

The holidays are fast approaching and most of us will spend a good deal of money on gifts and other things to help us enjoy the holiday festivities. The majority of us work very hard in order to pay for those things, but there are many who rely on other, unlawful ways.

Scammers all across the globe will also be working hard to pay for all the things they plan to buy, as well. This usually means we’ll be seeing an increase in the number of reports regarding old scams, sometimes with a different twist, or even a new scam.

We routinely try to put information out there about the various scams because it’s something we feel is important to keep the public informed of. It’s true that most of the victims are elderly, but anyone call fall victim to the many different scams out there.

Here’s an example of an ongoing scam that was reported to us just yesterday:

The victim received an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be with Microsoft Technical Support. The victim said he was having trouble with his computer lately, so he didn`t think anything of it when the caller said he was calling to help him fix his computer. The scammer told him to go to his computer and he could perform various tasks remotely to fix it. He then directed the victim to a Western Union website where he would be charged only $9.00 for fixing his computer.

After the victim entered his credit card number and the three-digit code on the back of the card, the caller advised he was going to take over the computer to change a few items. The victim said he was not touching his computer, but could see the cursor on his computer moving.

The scammer told the victim that his credit card wasn’t working and asked for another one. After trying another card and advising that one didn’t work either, the caller ended the encounter and advised he would call back later for payment.

The victim later thought about what transpired and decided to contact his credit card company. They told him two separate wire transfers were attempted on his cards for a total of almost $1500. The bank denied both transactions so the victim was not out any money.

Luckily for the victim, his bank was able to intercede and prevent him from becoming a financial victim, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. It is our hope that people will take a few moments to confirm the source before giving out personal or financial information to a stranger.

The officer on this case advised the victim to contact the three credit reporting agencies to have them place a fraud alert on his account. He also decided to take his computer into a local computer repair center to have the experts fix the problem. Hopefully, the bill will be a lot less than it could have been in this case.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Detectives Need Your Help to Identify

On November 8th, 2012, Overland Park officers were contacted by a victim who stated someone stole her wallet while she was dining at a local restaurant. Inside her wallet, the victim had several credit cards which were then unlawfully used on the same day to purchase goods at an area retail store and withdraw cash from a local bank.

The amount of the loss exceeds $5,000.00.

Surveillance photos depict an Asian female using the victim’s credit cards. (See photos below)

 Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to contact the TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS or the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8750.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Traffic Alert: Southbound Quivira Road

Beginning Tuesday, December 4th, at 9:00 AM through Thursday, December 6, until 4:00 PM, southbound Quivira Road between 105th and 106th Streets will be reduced to two lanes (outside lane closed) for road construction.

This information can also be viewed at: