The Kansas City Police Department is warning small mom-and-pop business owners and credit card holders about a fiendish way criminals have found to steal.
It's a crime that has occurred in other parts of the country but hit Kansas City this weekend.
"We hadn't heard of it in Kansas City until obviously this weekend," said Kansas City Police Department Sgt. Rob Rickett. "It is something we want to hurry up and get a jump out in front of."
Stores use satellite dishes to transmit credit card information after a purchase is made, but for smaller businesses the transaction may not be processed immediately. Thieves are climbing onto rooftops and covering up the satellite dish with aluminum foil.
This prevents the transactions from being transmitted to the credit card company. Police say this allows thieves to use counterfeit, maxed-out or even stolen credit cards.
The thieves are long gone before the retailer realizes the transaction is being rejected.
Kansas City police say this occurred at least three times over the weekend and possibly a fourth time. Some retailers could be victims and not even know it yet because the machine will show the purchases to go through.
The department is warning businesses that transmit credit card information to lottery transactions by satellite to be aware of this scam. Owners and managers should be on the lookout for anyone climbing on store roofs.
Rickett said police are working to determine if the crooks are using a fence, ladder or the roof of a vehicle to gain access to the roofs.
The three thefts this weekend were in the 6200 block of St. John Avenue, 8700 block of Northwest 112th Street and the 2100 block of East 39th Street. In the St. John Avenue theft, the suspect used a fraudulent credit card to purchase $1,665 worth of cigarettes.
If a satellite is covered with foil, contact police immediately and do not remove the foil. Officers will need to process the area as a crime scene.
"If they use any type of technology like that [satellite dish to transmit credit card transactions] and they have an unsecured rooftop, it's probably a good idea to check their communications," Rickett said.
He suggests checking the equipment at least every other day.
Police did question three about the repeated transactions at one business but did not have enough evidence to hold them. They are also reviewing store surveillance video.
If you have any information that would help solve these crimes, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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