People should watch out for a few scams that are being worked in the Northeast, Dianne Murphy, the 2nd Police District’s community relations officer, said Sept. 16.
And she also warned residents that street robbers are targeting people who have smartphones. A lot of school students have become victims of such crimes. Smartphones are small items that can yield a lot of cash for those robbers, and the best tactic is not to take out those phones in public.
“Don’t let them know you have a phone,” Murphy told members of the Take Back Your Neighborhood civic group at their Sept. 16 meeting at Max Myers Recreation Center.
Murphy and Lt. Lisa Harner described a scam in which con artists tell people going into local markets that they can quickly do body work on their cars. People refuse, but the con men do the jobs anyway while the people are shopping and then demand payment when the motorists come out of the stores.
Two men and two women have been seen working this scam locally. Anyone approached should call 911, Harner said, and give a clear description of the people who approached them.
Another game being played involves con artists calling residents to ask about repairing their burglar-alarm systems. Of course, anyone who responds, “I don’t have an alarm,” is setting himself or herself up for burglary.
Also visiting the TBYN session were state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.) and City Commissioner Stephanie Singer.
Singer, one of three officials who oversee Philadelphia’s elections, stressed the importance of voting in the upcoming November election. Candidates for district attorney and city controller are on the ballot in what traditionally has been a low-interest, low-turnout election.
Only about 10 percent of the city’s million voters turned out for the spring primary election, Singer told residents. Make a decision to go to the polls, she said, and persuade your neighbors to vote, too.
The commissioner also encouraged residents to get even more involved in politics by running for committee seats in their home districts.
Boyle is not running for office this year, but is running for Congress in 2014 and last week gave Lower Northeast residents an early pitch for his candidacy.
He told the civic group’s members he is born and raised in Philly and is the only Philadephia candidate for Allyson Schwartz’s 13th Congressional District seat. The district also has a large chunk of Montgomery County. Schwartz is not seeking re-election because she is running for her party’s gubernatorial nomination.
Helping middle-class families find money for college tuition is a challenge he’s trying to meet with legislation.
“The hardest part is not in getting into college, but in coming up with the money to pay for it,” he said. Student loans, the lawmaker said, is the biggest single source of consumer debt in the United States.
Jared Solomon, TBYN president, said many students take out large loans to pay tuition, and the high cost of paying back those loans “completely changes your life decisions.”
People have to adjust plans for buying homes or starting families because they are paying back their loans.
Boyle said he looks at what has been working in other jurisdictions and has modeled some legislation after laws in other states.
One is to give students who maintain 3.0 grade point averages a break in paying back state tuition loans. ••