Altamont theft underscores need for cardholder diligence

Credit card thieves are becoming more adept at targeting people in places they would least suspect, such as at small-town events and neighborhood shops and grocery stores.

For example, at this year's Country Fest in Altamont on July 14, a 30-year-old woman from Greene County's credit card was stolen from her purse after she set it down during an outside altercation that occurred nearby.

The man who is charged with stealing her card, Paul J. Derouville, 30, of Altamont, allegedly used the card immediately at a Sunoco Gas station in the area, where he pumped $29.41 worth of fuel and drove away.

They (credit card thieves) like to utilize smaller areas like the city of Altamont because they think we aren't equipped to handle it, but we are, said Altamont police Chief Tony Salerno.

The suspect was caught on tape by security cameras at the pump and arrested a week later by Altamont police, who were contacted by the woman, who noticed her card was missing the day after Country Fest.

An investigation followed, leading to the Derouville's arrest on July 27. He was charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Salerno said the police department is trying to get the word out to the public about preventing personal crimes such as credit-card theft.

"Were really trying to discourage this type of behavior," he said. "If you're going to use a stolen credit card, we're going to pursue it."

Salerno said that although most people know to cancel their credit cards immediately after they have been lost or stolen, the key is to have the toll-free numbers and credit card numbers handy so that it can be reported without delay. To report a stolen credit card, or any other type of identity fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 438-4338.

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