One businessman can sleep a little better after Marshall Police Department responded to his call for help Saturday after thieves stole his debit card, running up an almost $800 tab at a local hotel and more.
Within less than an hour of making the report, police were able to make an arrest.
“You always read about they’re sorry or they didn’t do this or do that,” Ashton Closner, owner of Computers N More at 603 E. Grand Ave., said of the flak society in general has given police. “This is one of those situations where they did what they could and it worked out.”
Closner said he discovered that the debit card was stolen after receiving a notification on his cell phone that one of his cards was over the daily limit.
“I opened that app and looked, and all of a sudden I saw like nine charges (for) just that day,” Closner recalled. “And I don’t even use that debit card, just for business. I immediately called the credit card company and let them know I got fraudulent charges and put in a dispute; and then I noticed they were all in Marshall.”
Charges were made at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Lowes, a couple of gas stations and two hotels. The first charge, made for $4.10 at O’Reilly’s, looks like the thieves were just trying to see if the transaction would work, he said. The charges to follow just skyrocketed, Closner observed.
“The one that really got my mind going was first it was Fairfield Inn for like $190 and then the last one was $748 at the Best Western,” the business owner said. “I was like first of all, no offense to Best Western, but I didn’t know they had a room (that expensive), so I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, something’s going on.’”
Other charges that stood out were charges for HomeWave, which is a video conferencing system that allows inmates to communicate with family and friends from jail.
“There’s three (charges) for HomeWave,” said Closner. “So once I got it all stopped, I called the police and I said hey, this charge at Best Western just happened within the last 20 or 30 minutes. I said: ‘Can you go down there and figure out who just did a $748 charge? There can’t be that many.’”
Closner said the police advised that the hotel couldn’t just freely release the information, but they would do what they could within the law to help.
The officer instructed Closner to send them the necessary paperwork in the meantime, stating the reason for the hotel’s records. Closner, who was at a gathering in Louisiana at the time, wasn’t able to drive to Marshall immediately.
“We were in the middle of a get together with people. I said: ‘You just can’t go down?’” Closner asked the officer. Closner said he was getting upset with procedures, initially, but understood.
“He was very professional. He said I’m sorry. Once you submit it we will absolutely follow up,” Closner recalled.
The businessman said he received a call about 30 minutes later, informing him that the sergeant had dispatched to the hotel on a whim, to hopefully locate the suspect.
“Two (individuals) were in the lobby; he started questioning them, and they basically confessed that they used a card fraudulently,” said Closner. “Then they confessed to taking it out of my building on Grand where they got it. He arrested them on the spot.
“Literally within half an hour of me calling they were in jail,” he said. “It made me very happy.”
According to jail records, Jeffery Eugene Derr, 41, of Jefferson, was arrested on a charge of credit card abuse; and Marsha Rose Molina, 31, of Marshall, was arrested on charges of credit card abuse and traffic violations.
Closner said he was pleased with the quick resolve, given the circumstances. He said although he knew the bank would refund his money, it just irritates him to see people potentially get away with scams.
“You know how many times people steal credit cards or commit fraud, and they never get caught…,” Closner said. “He (the officer) knew what he could or couldn’t do, but at least he wasn’t lazy and just stayed in his office. (Instead) he went and followed up.
“Legally his hands were tied, but he just used his ability and questioned and the guy got nervous and he picked up on that and he was like yes, sir,” said Closner. “It was a great praise report.”
“I just appreciate the fact that they responded and quickly followed up with what I told them,” he said.