A golden slip of paper, slightly bigger than a business card, can help catch criminals.
For decades, the Oneonta Police Department has been randomly checking businesses throughout the night. Officers check doorknobs, windows, locks, and anything else that, if tampered with, might be an indication of forced entry.
“If one little thing is out of place, you will see it in your peripheral vision,” said Deputy Chief Judy Underwood. “They check every door, window, crack, and crevice before they place that yellow card anywhere.”
After the business check is complete, officers put a yellow card stating the business has been checked, the time of the check, and the officer who performed it. The officer hides the yellow card so it can’t be seen by any would-be criminal.
If it is robbed after the time written on the card, police can get closer to pin-pointing the exact time the robbery occurred, according to Chief James Chapman.
The business checks are not scheduled and some businesses are re-checked more than once a night.
“A lot of people don’t know how busy night shift really is,” Chapman said. “Crime has ventured out, and both night shifts have carried this process a step further by breaking down the city into sectors, allowing the checks to be evenly distributed.”
At the beginning of their shift, officers will select the section of the city where they want to perform business checks. During the night, the officers will rotate, adding even more unpredictability as to what businesses they check and re-check.
On occasion, the police department receives phone calls about the yellow cards. A business owner might find one when they arrive at work and call to thank the police. Other times, the owner may think something is wrong.
Chapman and Underwood want people to know that if one of these cards is found at your business, don’t be alarmed. Nothing is wrong. These business checks have been happening for years now, and they will continue.