The Financial Crimes Unit is located at the Police Administration Building, 201 W. Mission St., San Jose, CA 95110, 408 277-4521.
In general, the Financial Crimes Unit investigates all manner of property thefts and identity thefts. The Unit is divided into two Details, the Fraud/Theft Team and the Burglary Team.
Burglary versus Theft
A burglary is the theft of property in which the suspect entered into a dwelling, commercial property or locked vehicle or container in order to accomplish the theft. This does not include thefts from open garages, front or back yards or unlocked vehicles. Thefts that do not involve the act of “entering,” false pretenses, or the use of force or fear are investigated by the Fraud/Theft team. Burglaries are investigated by the Burglary Team.
How Cases are Assigned
Due to the current significant staffing challenges, the San Jose Police Department redeployed detectives from the Financial Crime Unit to Patrol. With this reallocation of staffing, the Department now has four detectives to manage a workload that was previously performed by a larger number of officers. Thus, the reduction in staffing has had a tremendous impact on the number of cases that can be investigated. Due to the reduced staffing levels, the Financial Crimes Unit has had to prioritize cases in order to maximize the impact on crime and protect the most vulnerable. Every report taken is reviewed by the Unit supervisor, but not all cases are assigned to an investigator.
The Department understands that citizens may feel frustrated because the Department may not have the resources to investigate their cases, but please know that our officers are committed to providing public service to the best of their ability. We ask for your assistance, through active engagement and collaboration with the Department, to help keep our community safe. This can be accomplished through crime prevention. We have included information and links to assist you in this effort.
The Fraud Team investigates elder financial abuse, identify theft and other types of fraud. Staffing levels and investigator caseload are factors in determining if a case is assigned to an investigator. However, many of these cases do have alternative resolutions. For more information about alternative resolutions and additional resources for particular crimes, click on the crime type below.
- Credit Card Theft – The unauthorized use of a credit card or credit card numbers
- Check Forgery – The unauthorized use of checks and use of false signatures
- Identity Theft – The unauthorized use of a person’s name or other identifying information for personal gain.
- Grand Theft - The theft of property incurring a loss of $ 950 or greater
- Real Estate Fraud - Using false information or pretenses for personal gain during a real estate transaction
- Elder Financial Abuse – Theft from elderly or dependent adults
- Embezzlement – Theft by a person who has a fiduciary responsibility
Cases which involve in-custody suspects, fingerprints, or DNA evidence are given the highest priority. Often these types of cases lead to the identification of burglary strings. Cases which are not assigned may be reopened if they have been identified as a victim in a string.
The Burglary Team works closely with Patrol through their Contact to Completion Program which encourages patrol officers to follow-up on burglary cases which are not being worked by detectives. Only a limited number of cases can be assigned to Contact to Completion since the officers work these cases between calls for service.
Victims who have auto or homeowners insurance should check to see if their policies cover lost or stolen property.
If you are the victim of a Burglary you should take the following steps:
- Call 911 or 311 to report the burglary immediately
- If you suspect that the burglar could still be inside, do not enter the premises. Let the 911 dispatcher know that you are not sure if the burglar is still inside.
- If a vehicle has been stolen during the burglary make sure you notify the dispatcher immediately if possible. Do not wait for the officer to arrive to report it
- Advise the dispatcher or responding officer if you have any suspect information, if you have or are aware of any video surveillance systems nearby, know of witnesses or if you find any items on your property that do not belong to you.
- If checks, credit cards, debit cards, documents and computers with personal information (such as social security numbers or dates of birth), or ID cards are taken immediately notify the credit card companies and banks. You should also report stolen social security numbers to the Social Security Administration and/or passports to the State Department
- If keys or access cards to the premises or to other properties (such to summer homes, relatives or neighbors homes, or places of business or employment) are missing, make arrangements to change the locks or deactivate the cards as soon as possible.
- Take a complete inventory of the stolen property and include serial numbers, makes, models, and any individual markings, and send it to the police department. Should an officer come across the property he can check the serial number through the computer to identify it as stolen property and return it to the rightful owner.
- Monitor your credit via the three credit bureaus for several months.
- Take steps to improve the security of your property by implementing burglary prevention techniques.
Before an investigation may begin, a police report must first be filed with the San Jose Police Department.
This may be done in one of the following ways:
- For burglaries that are occurring or have just occurred call 911.
- In person, at the San Jose Police Department, 201 W. Mission St.
- By phone to the Reports Desk, 408-277-8900 or 3-1-1 (if you live in the City of San Jose)
- On-line - File a Report Online
- If you file a report using our online crime reporting form be sure to print the report and record your case number for future reference.
- For more information about reporting crimes, Click Here.
To report a crime in progress call 9-1-1.
Contacting the Financial Crimes Unit
If an investigator has contacted you, you may call his direct line. Otherwise, you may leave a message at:
Financial Crimes Detail
Credit card theft is the use of stolen credit or debit cards, or the numbers on the cards. Often, items are ordered on-line and sent to addresses that are unoccupied. The suspects then retrieve the packages after watching to make sure they are unobserved.
The suspects may gain the credit card information through burglaries, mail theft, employees of businesses, or from records that have been placed in the trash without being destroyed.
Credit card fraud includes:
- Opening credit cards in your name
- ATM fraud
- All other frauds involving the false granting of credit in your name
- Unauthorized purchases on your credit or ATM cards
Immediate Steps to take if you are a victim of credit card fraud
- Notify banks and credit card companies that your accounts have been compromised. Change all financial account numbers, including bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and retirement accounts.
- File a report with your local police department.
- Notify the three credit bureaus by telephone
- Notify credit bureaus, creditors, and collection agencies of the fraud in writing.
- Assume all your identity records are compromised until proven safe.
- Monitor bills and statements for accuracy and timely arrival.
- Assess and reduce your overall exposure to continuing crimes or new attacks
- Get a locking mail box
- Shred all documents with personal information
- Ensure computers and electronic devices are password protected
- Periodically check your credit reports.
- Have locking file cabinets to store paper files.
- Password protect databases that have personal information
- Never give your social security number, credit card numbers or bank account numbers to anyone over the phone or e-mail that you did not contact first.
- Opt out of the marketing and sale of your personal information by credit bureaus, credit card companies, lenders, and banks in writing.
- Re-assert control of your accounts by changing account identifiers, numbers, and institutions as appropriate.
- Don’t pay fraudulent bills. Doing so is a statement that no fraud has occurred.
- Notify the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service of the fraud, as appropriate.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if your driver’s license has been compromised.
- Remain vigilant. Identity thieves often attack more than once after they have been successful with a certain victim. They often pass around or sell the information to other criminals who will attempt to victimize you again.
- Get help and emotional support.
Check Fraud includes the use of stolen checks, the manufacture and use of counterfeit checks, the forgery of signatures or the alteration of information on legitimate checks. Suspects often obtain checks through burglaries, mail theft and the reproduction of legitimate checks written to the suspects or others. This also includes writing legitimate checks when the suspect knows that there is no money to cover the check (They often open accounts under stolen identification and social security numbers) and when there is no intention of following through with a real payment.
Steps to Take if you are the victim of check fraud:
- Use the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Bad Check Restitution Program for NSF checks less than $5,000, where the suspect’s identification information is on the check, and the payee is not a commercial establishment. For additional details on the Check Restitution Program call 877-520-6137.
- If the check is not eligible, it may be possible to pursue via small claims court or through a private collection agency. For checks with amounts exceeding $10,000, a claim may be possible through superior court.
- If your checks have been lost or stolen or someone has opened a fraudulent account:
- Notify your bank. Cancel your checking account and get a new account number.
- Put a stop payment on any outstanding checks you are not sure of.
- Report the theft or account to a check verification company.
- File a police report.
- Realize that if an account was opened in your name, the criminal has your personal information and can use it to open credit cards and lines of credit. Notify the three credit bureaus by telephone and monitor you credit.
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of a person’s personal information (i.e. name, date of birth, social security information, driver’s license number, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers.) Suspects often use this information to open new bank accounts and credit cards to make purchases for which they will not pay. This can damage a victim’s credit and reputation. They also use this information to access current credit cards and bank accounts resulting in the direct loss of money.
Criminal identity theft is when suspects use this information to commit crimes or to avoid being identified by police. This could result in arrest warrants being issued for the victim, or the acquisition of a false criminal history which could affect employment opportunities among other disadvantages.
Steps to Take if you are the victim of Financial Identity Theft
- Excellent step-by-step instructions are available at:
Grand Theft is the basic theft of property worth more than $950. Grand theft is a felony. Theft of property worth less than $950 is considered petty theft which is a misdemeanor. In some cases the loss of these items may be covered under your homeowners or auto insurance policies. It is a good idea to write down the serial numbers along with the make and model of items that are of significant value or importance to you. When you report the loss, the serial numbers can be entered in to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). If a suspicious person is stopped and has the property in his possession, or if the property is located during a search warrant or other police activity, the officers can run the serial numbers through the NCIC to identify if the property has been reported stolen and return it to the owner after the case has been adjudicated.
Often, suspects will steal checks, credit cards and computers containing personal information that can be used by suspects to commit additional crimes against you and others. It is important that you immediately contact the banks and credit card companies of the thefts. You should also notify others whose personal information may have been in your computer (ie – rosters and databases) so they can do the same. Always control access to all your computer devices (including smart phones, etc) with the use of a password. Do not write these down where they can be located. If keys or access cards are missing make sure you change the locks and report the missing access cards to the appropriate authorities.
Real estate fraud is the use of false information or pretenses during a real estate transaction. This often includes the falsification of employment or income data, the false reporting of assets, the forgery of signatures, money laundering, notary fraud, use of straw buyers, and rent skimming. The following agencies can provide information and resources if you are a victim of real estate fraud:
California Department of Real Estate
- The Department of Real Estate licenses, regulates and investigates complaints bout real estate brokers, salespersons and some mortgage brokers and escrows.
California Association of Realtors
- The Association has listings for local Realtor associations throughout the Los Angeles County area
Department of Corporations Financial Services Division
- DOC regulates some escrow companies and the sale of securities, such as fractionalized deeds of trust and verifies the licenses of mortgage bankers.
Department of Insurance Underwriting Services Bureau
- The Department of Insurance regulates title insurance companies and examines complaints about the insurance business. If you have a complaint involving title to property, you may first file a claim with your title insurer.
Contractor’s State license Board
- The Contractor’s State License Board investigates complaints involving contractors and mechanics liens.
Elder financial abuse is the theft from elders or dependent adults. Elders are often easy to victimize for several reasons. These reasons vary from deterioration of mental capacity, isolation, fear, loneliness, naiveté, financial stress, and lack of access to family and friends to watch over them. Elders are often financially abused by family members, employed care givers, friends, businesses, contractors, bankers and others. They also often fall victim to phone and internet scams. The financial crimes unit cross-reports all reports of elder financial abuse to the Santa Clara County Adult Protective Services. Even when a crime cannot be charged, Adult Protective Services can help victimized adults in many ways. If you, a family member, or friend, have been a victimized, immediately make a police report. If you think an elder may require assistance with day to day decisions and activities but a crime may not have occurred, you may also contact APS to see what help they may qualify for.
Steps to Take if you are the victim of Elder Financial Abuse
- If the abuse is on-going, call 911 and make a report.
- If the abuser is no longer victimizing the elder, call 311 and make a report.
- If the abuser had access to credit cards, checks and other personal information then take the steps recommended under Steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft.
Embezzlement is the theft of property by a person in a fiduciary capacity. A fiduciary responsibility generally means that a person has been entrusted to guard or care for assets. This could simply be an employee, an accountant, a CPA or attorney. Most victims of embezzlement are businesses. Most often, the suspect is known and efforts can be made to recover stolen assets through the civil courts. The following courses of action can be pursued in most cases.
- Make an insurance claim for the loss
- Sue the suspect in Small Claims Court if the loss is less than $10,000
- Sue the suspect in State Court if the loss is greater than $10,000
National Fraud Information Center http://www.fraud.org/
- Equifax - 1-888-766-0008
- Experian - 1-888 397 3742
- Tran Union - 1- 800-680-7289
Federal Trade Commission – http://www.ftc.gov/
Social Security Administration http://www.ssa.gov/
Elder Abuse Resources
California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse http://oag.ca.gov/bmfea/
The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity. You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood. And remember you can always remain a pair of anonymous eyes!
Light up your residence, lock your doors at all times, and call the Police when you see something suspicious.
For additional crime prevention tips or to arrange for a crime prevention specialist to conduct a neighborhood association or group meeting contact the San Jose Police Crime Prevention Unit at: 408 277-4133.