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Local police walking the cyber beat

Story and Photo by John R. Moodie

Police once walked the beat in their community. Today the criminals have gone cyber and the police also have to walk a digital beat on the World Wide Web.

Cyber Crimes have become a regular occurrence in our everyday lives yet many people are not aware of the potential dangers, said Belleville police Sargent, Rene Aubertin.

The Belleville Police and Ontario Provincial Police have started a joint initiative to inform the public of dangers of cyber crime.

Last week they were at the Quinte mall on Thursday for police week to engage the public.

“The initiative is meant to inform the public on home police use computers to combat cyber crime and what people can do to protect themselves,” said Aubertin.

Police week is a province-wide campaign to build a relationship between police and the community.
The initiative also highlighted how police use social media to engage the community.

“Through our website we do surveys about what is going on in the community. About the different events were doing,” said Aubertin.

There are also monthly surveys put out to the public on local traffic and parking. The internet is also being used as a place where people can report crimes.

“Social media is making it a lot easier, you can make simple reports online and you don’t have to leave your house to make a report to the police. You don’t wait for an officer to come see you,” said Aubertin.

Often people dismiss some crimes as being minor. Aubertin urges people to “report it to us. if we don’t know about it we can’t do anything about it.”

Aubertin says incidences of phone and internet scams are on the rise.

“This is about letting the public know what is happening and what they can do to prevent from being defrauded,” said Aubertin.

Aubertin says false ads on Kijiji and phishing scams are the most commonly reported crimes.

“You get scams online called phishing scams sent to you saying it’s from a bank wanting to verify your information. Banks do not do that. It’s just a scam trying to get you to impute your information,” said Aubertin.

Aubertin said that online shopping is generally safe but warns people have to assess their own risk.

“Is it safe to order things online. I have purchased items online. You have to determine how much information you are going to give out. PayPal makes things safer. Sites like that are secure,” said Aubertin.

There are other cyber crimes the public needs to be aware of. OPP constable Alana Deubel who educates people on bullying awareness and safety, said parents should monitor what their kids are doing online.

“Nowadays with tablets and laptops kids will lock themselves in their room and are on the internet. You don’t know what they are doing,” said Deubel.

Deubel recommends parents keep the computer in a common area of the house where you can what their kids are doing online.

“Don’t just assume that they are safe you have to keep track of what they are doing,” said Deubel.
With the rise of cyber crimes police departments are forced to allocate more resources.

“No police service has enough budget to combat cyber crime. Cyber crime is huge and it constantly evolving. I challenge any service to keep on top of it,” said Aubertin.

In contrast, Deubel said the OPP’s technical crime unit out of Orillia is capable of address cyber crime.
Aubertin said Belleville often has to pool resources with other departments.

“Rarely would you run into a cyber crime that is being run locally most of these crimes are international by nature and global,” said Aubertin.

Aubertin said it is very difficult to track down cyber criminals.

“It is very taxing to resources on any police service.”