5/16/2006

Bad Checks

I was in my local gas station yesterday, and I noticed that the owner had resorted to taping photocopies of bad checks to his till. What caught my eye was the fact that 3 of them were written by the same person on the same account. Why was this person not arrested?

Will our new police chief crack down on bad checks? We have an...um...interesting policy in this town whereby as I understand it bad check cases will be pursued only if very particular, specific guidelines are met by the business.

I am reminded of when Rudy Guilianni took over the reigns as Mayor of New York. He declared that all violations of law would be prosecuted because to let some go simply encouraged bad behavior up the line.

I wonder if a 'get tough' policy on all infractions in this town might work its way up the ladder. In other words, does looking the other way on small crimes, like bad checks, in favor of working on the meth problem actually contribute to the meth problem?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

No one's pursuing bad checks because you say so? Do you ever check your facts before you post these kind of items?

GeeGuy said...

Did I say no one's pursuing bad checks? Do you ever read the posts before commenting like this?

marvin said...

Where do you get the idea that no bad checks are prosecuted? Maybe you should stop by the District Court Arraignments on Thursdays. You might see a few of the people whose checks you saw. Or, maybe you can call the local collection agencies who submit hundreds of bad checks to the county attorney for misdemeanor prosecution. You could even check (pun intended) the Justice Court files. And, it's possible, you might talk to a few bad check writers who quickly made restitution when confronted with an arrest warrant.

Come on. Check it out. Great Falls is safe even without Giuliani and his crackdown on car window washers.

Anonymous said...

You said: "We have an...um...interesting policy in this town whereby as I understand it bad check cases essentially will not be pursued."

Any facts to back this up? Who issued this policy? How is this your understanding?

GeeGuy said...

Wow, I touched a nerve here. First, I never mentioned the county attorney's office. So I am not sure where anyone took the suggestion that our local county attorneys are not prosecuting the cases.

Second, Anonymous and Marvin are obviously coming at this from the point of view of law enforcement. Great. How about the businessperson's point of view? Anyone?

(And I'll apologize if I ruffled your feathers, but this is a discussion. Don't be so damn defensive. There is more than one point of view; hopefully we'll get a business perspective too.)

GeeGuy said...

P.S. I changed the post, too. Better?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is a simple explanation for the person not being arrested - no one pressed charges?

I wonder if you bothered to ask the clerk or the store owner why he posted them. It would appear that your observation led you to jump to conclusions. Perhaps you should go back and investigate further before sending a broadside across the bow of the new police chief's desk without all of the facts in hand.

I am sure any other good journalist would investigate first to get all the facts rather than jump to conclusions. You assume that because someone posts photocopies of bad checks that "bad check cases will be pursued only if very particular specific guidelines are met by the business" without letting any of your readers know where you obtained that information or how you would know it.

Just where did you find the "very particular specific guidelines?" You must have obtained them somewhere? Can any member of the public get them, and where are they posted?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

It's not about being defensive. It's about you getting your facts straight, or taking some minimal effort to back up your claims.

It's great that you changed your post, but shouldn't you have had a factual basis for writing it in the first place?

GeeGuy said...

"A broadside across the bow of the new police chief's desk?" Give me a break. I wondered 'aloud' what he would do. I hope he takes an aggressive stand.

As far as the policy I am referring to, I will dig a little deeper. But I distinctly remember an article in the Tribune within the last year or two on this very issue. And the article listed certain circumstances where the GFPD stated it will not pursue or investigate bad check claims. I discussed with my friends at the time the fact that it seemed unusual that law enforcement would publicly state that it simply would not investigate a violation of law unless certain conditions, not stated in the statute, were met.

If I cannot locate the article or a policy, I will gladly retract the post.

But let's flip it around. Those of you commenting who are on the law enforcement side of things, are you saying there is nothing more that can be done to pursue bad check writers?

Anonymous said...

Gee Guy, don't be such a pussy. Talk to any business in town who has been ripped off, and they'll tell you that law enforcement doesn't do shit. Take a report, yada, yada, yada.

Hell, I know people who have tracked down the thieves themselves and they can't get an arrest made.

Anonymous said...
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david said...

HOLY CRAP -- I can't believe the quantity and "quality" of this thread!

But to be *really* safe, all businesses need to follow this simple rule:

Do NOT accept checks from:
Chief Wiggum
Reverend Lovejoy
Homer J. Simpson
Homer S. Simpson
H.J. Simpson
Homor Simpson
Homer J. Fong

Anonymous said...

"But let's flip it around. Those of you commenting who are on the law enforcement side of things, are you saying there is nothing more that can be done to pursue bad check writers?"

Nice try, Gee Guy. There is, of course, always more that can be done to pursue ANY crime.

Face it. You were talking out of the wrong end and got called on it. No big deal. Happens to the best of us.

GeeGuy said...

Well, those of you from law enforcement that are beating me up on this, tell me: Is there a policy? If so, what is it?

If not, was there one? Or am I hallucinating about the Tribune article?

P.S. I'm glad you know who I am, anonymous. That gives you a leg up. But please don't put my name in your comments.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I had my check book stolen. Since the theft happened outside the city limits the Sheriffs dept. investigated. The deputy I talked to said bad checks were not as aggressively pursued as other thefts. The dept. supposedly felt the store owners needed to check I.D. better and this would lead them to do so. Eventually the thief was caught on video in Helena and arrested.

WolfPack said...

Only someone in law enforcement who only sees 10% of this problem would question Geeguy's post. The cumulative cost of these check scams is in the millions for Great Falls businesses each year. I’m only one small business and I have approximately $20K in unresolved bad checks over the last 12 years. Bad checks certainly are on the bottom of the priority list for law enforcement and there certainly is an argument for it. So why pretend that it isn’t so, it makes us victims feel unacknowledged. The county attorneys office may be churning through them but only after significant effort has been expended trying to get the money through collection agencies. What other crime victims have to call up the thief and beg for their money back before the legal system will step in?

ZenPanda said...

Very interesting post Gee.
I am glad to see you got people talking about it. now THEY need to take action as well. Don't sit there & bitch about it anonymous (es?)- get yourself involved.
Since this is GeeGuys forum- he can say whatever he wants!
Bad checks are an issue for businesses and the community. It is stealing from all of us. If a business has to suck up the extra costs for the check processing, lost merchandise or time and time invested in pursuing the matter they pass it on to the other customers/consumers.

I wish I had caught this sooner. Great discussion!