"The more a business and its employees understand crime, the better a community will be," said Tamaqua Police Chief Dave Mattson during a Crime Prevention and Safety seminar held recently in Tamaqua. "Employers and employees can make it very uncomfortable for criminals to survive by simply taking an active and offensive role against crime."

The seminar, held in the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, will be the first of many duplicate and series related Crime and Safety seminars being provided free to local employers, employees and the public via the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce and Tamaqua Police Department.

During the seminar, Mattson and Tamaqua Police Detective Corporal Henry Woods spoke about ways for both employers and employees to lesson their chances of being the victim of a crime by simply being aware.

"Know-how and early intervention are the key when deterring, detecting and reacting to crime," stressed Mattson.

One topic discussed involved 'What to do during a robbery.'

"Do as the robber asks," said Woods. "Remember to gather as much information about the robber and lock the door afterward."

Both Mattson and Woods amplified the importance of having a quality camera system in place, pointing out that recorded surveillance video almost always results in a conviction of a criminal.

"How do you prevent from being robbed," asked Mattson. "Be alert, as robbers use the element of surprise to accomplish their crime."

"You can prevent a robbery by simply being alert with your customers and surroundings," said Woods.

Another topic discussed involved how to detect shoplifters.

"The best way to prevent shoplifting is to pay constant close attention to your customers," said Mattson. "Greet every customer you come in contact with. This is good for business but not good for shoplifters who want to avoid attention and contact with store personnel.

In addition to other topics, Woods talked about check and identification forgery.

"About 85 percent of crimes I investigate involve forgery," said Woods. "A few easy ways to detect a forged check is to examine the date, look closely at the check's physical appearance, look at the check number (as most "bad" or "NSF" have check numbers of less than "200"), look at the paper it is printed on, verify the bank and always check both the numerical and written amounts of the check.

When examining signatures or identifications, look at the signature "letter by letter" for any rough lines, blots, blurs or hesitation strokes along the sides of the writing.

The officers spent a period of time discussing credit card fraud, stressing the importance of employees checking the physical appearance of the card, its expiration date, the flexibility of the card and security features.

"Special security features are constantly being added or improved upon and businesses need to keep up to date on all these new security features," added Mattson. "Triple checking signatures and always ask for customers for identification are also good practice.

Following the seminar, visitors were given American Security Educations Inc. "Business Alert" booklets, which provide detailed ways of understanding crime.

"Our Chamber of Commerce is a great resource in the battle against crime," said Linda Yulanavage, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "For example, we routinely pass on information to our members via our weekly 'Chamber Chatters' newsletters about important topics or concerns involving a rash of bad checks, counterfeit bills, new scams and so on."

She added that the next repeat seminar will held be Monday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Arts Center, which is located at 125 Pine St. She stressed that reservations are required and all are invited.

For more information, call the Chamber at (570) 668-1880.

"Residents and businesses need to take pride and step up to the plate," added Mattson. "Over time, criminals will move away as pressure from the community and its businesses grows."