Q: A friend of mine said he was stopped by the police for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. Is it illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk?

A: Yes, riding your bicycle on the sidewalk is a violation of the Santa Monica Municipal Code. The Municipal Code says in substance: Bicycles shall not be ridden on any public sidewalk or in any public parking structure. An officer may issue a citation at his/her discretion. Bicycles should follow the same rules as vehicles; they need to stop for stop signs, red lights, ride with the flow of traffic, etc. They are dangerous for pedestrians and I have taken many traffic collision reports where a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk was struck by a vehicle exiting a driveway. Also, please use a helmet when riding your bicycle!

Q: I have someone living in their car in front of my house. They leave a lot of trash and defecate on the street. Can the police do anything about this?

A: Yes, between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., no vehicle shall be occupied for over 30 minutes in a residential district. For a violation to occur the police officer needs to come out and advise the person and return 30 minutes later. If the person is still present the officer can issue a citation. If the person has certain items, blankets, pillows, suitcases, is sleeping, etc., the officer may be able to issue a citation for camping in public. Should you see this occurring in your neighborhood, you should call police dispatch at (310) 458-8491. You can call ahead of time if you don’t want to stay up until midnight; the police dispatch can hold the call until midnight and send the officer out to advise the person(s). If this person is a chronic violator, you can call your Neighborhood Resource Officer and they will set up a periodic check for the officers working your area. The NROs work closely with members of the SMPD Homeless Liaison Program (HLP) and West Coast Care to identify those in need of services and can try to assist them in getting into a shelter or off of the streets permanently. So, we really appreciate it if you call when you see someone living in their vehicle.

Crime prevention tip<p>

As unbelievable as it may seem in today’s times, there are still people that get swindled out of their hard-earned money. Con artists can be very convincing and the victims, who are often older citizens, are often very trusting. The Santa Monica Police Department has compiled great information on being aware of many crimes on our Web site — www.santamonicapd.org. Below is information on common scams. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you, or someone you know, becomes a victim of a scam, or is approached by someone trying to con you out of your money, please do not hesitate to call the police at (310) 458-8491. Detective Sgt. Henry Ramirez can point you in the right direction if you, or anyone you know, has fallen victim to a scam. He can be reached at (310) 458-8453.

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The examiner scheme

If a stranger tells you that he or she is an examiner or investigator and asks you to help catch a dishonest employee, beware! Banks never involve their account holders in investigations. The con artist will say he or she will re-deposit your money in such a way that the “dishonest” teller will be caught red-handed. The phony examiner will pick up your money and give you a fake receipt, never to be seen or heard from again. A simple preventative measure would be to call and check with your financial institution before doing anything.

The pigeon drop scheme <p>

If a stranger tells you they have found some money and tries to convince you that it was ill gotten by the loser (maybe a gambler) and can be kept, beware! You will be told you may share the find if you withdraw money from your savings to show “good faith” and responsibility. You may think you have your money in view, but the envelope or bag will be quickly switched. Only on going back to re-deposit your money do you discover you have only pieces of blank paper.

The automobile and home repair scheme<p>

Vagabond thieves frequently do auto body repair work to earn extra money. They will drive around town looking for dented vehicles and, after locating one and its owner, they inform the owner that they can make the repairs cheaply. After the work is done the thieves may then say the job was complicated and charge an exorbitant fee. Vagabond thieves also use various introductory statements to induce homeowners to allow them to repair or tar roofs, or resurface driveways.

Questions …<p>

If you have police related questions or concerns, we’d like to hear them. Send your questions or comments to NRO@smgov.net and you may see your question in our weekly column accompanied by valuable feedback for the rest of the community. While not all questions will appear in the column, all questions submitted will be answered by a department representative. Also, please note that we will supply as much information as possible without jeopardizing any legal proceedings or investigations. Remember, if you have a question, chances are, another reader may be wondering the same thing. So don’t hesitate to ask!

This column was prepared by NRO Scott Pace, who patrols Beat 2: Lincoln Boulevard to Ocean Front Walk, Interstate 10 to Ozone Avenue. He can be reached at (424) 200-0682 or via e-mail at scott.pace@smgov.net.

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