PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Gas is reporting some of its business customers are being contacted by scammers claiming they are behind on their accounts and demanding immediate payment.
According to Berkshire Gas, the callers are asking for payment by credit over the phone.
Several of the fraudulent calls have showed up as originating from 617-419-5406 in the recipients caller ID. Berkshire Gas said it has reported this information to the state police, the attorney general's office and the Department of Public Utilities.
The scam sounds similar to one last year in which callers targeted local businesses claiming to be from National Grid and demanding they purchase money cards to pay their overdue bills.
Berkshire Gas says it never seeks immediate payment of overdue accounts by credit card, or any other method, over the telephone. If you receive such a call, contact their customer information center at 1-800-292-5012 to report it.
If a Berkshire Gas customer ever doubts the authenticity of any call that they receive from Berkshire Gas, they should hang up and call the Berkshire Gas customer information center at 1-800-292-5012 to verify that the call was actually form Berkshire Gas, or one of its authorized representatives.
Pittsfield: Property Crimes High; Violent Crime Down
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Typically in May, the city's police force sees an average of 15 aggravated assault cases. This year, it saw none.
That statistic highlights a shrinking level of violent crime in Pittsfield. However, property crime is still pacing at an above-average rate.
According to the city's May CityStat report, property crime was 28 percent higher than the average for that month over the last five years. Property crimes this year are on pace to be 17 percent more than in 2013.
The silver lining is that while the city is pacing ahead of previous years, the pace has slowed since April.
"Compared to last month’s report, with the exception only of larceny from motor vehicles and persons, each category has shown significant improvement. In April, only one category showed a better-than-average result, and this month, 3 categories have," reads the most recently published report.
In April, the city was trending to see a 91 percent increase in shoplifting but that dropped in May to 50 percent. Larceny from buildings were 60 percent higher in April than last year at that time but now those numbers have reversed (from 16 to 6) and are looking to be 50 percent lower than the five-year average.
"Unfortunately, the rash of burglaries that started in April continued through May, bringing our burglary and motor vehicle larceny cases up from last month," reads the report.
Larceny from a motor vehicle is trending 125 percent more than the five-year average - up from 44 to 57 during five-month period. Burglaries in May were even higher than in April by 36 percent, uo from 44 to 60.
While property crimes continue to hold steady at above-average rates, violent crime is pacing at the lowest rate in the last five years. So far in 2014, police have responded to 34 cases of violent crime — down 35 percent from the 52 that officers responded to at this point in 2013.
Only four cases of violent crime have been reported in May — two rapes, an arson and a robbery. Both robbery and rape are trending above last year's totals but still at a rate 50 percent less than the five-year average.
"Consistent with the past several months, rape and robbery cases have shown increases since last year, but not compared to the five-year average. All other areas have either shown no change or a change for the better across the board," the report reads. "The most impressive change that can be seen is in the amount of aggravated assault cases. The average number of aggravated assaults for the month of May is 15. This May, we had 0 aggravated assaults. Moreover, Pittsfield is down 82 percent this year compared to last year for aggravated assault."
Two engine companies and a ladder company responded to the scene.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — West Housatonic Street was closed for about 45 minutes Monday morning after a tractor-trailer burst into flames.
According to Deputy Chief Bruce Kilmer, the driver of the semi suddenly lost power while eastbound near Clapp Park. He pulled over and noticed a leak before the flames burst out of the engine compartment and engulfed the front of the truck.
"I assume he had a fuel line leak but it is so hard to tell because the engine compartment was burned up pretty heavily," Kilmer said.
The driver was Demitres Cade from Albany, N.Y., and the truck was owned by Estes Express Lines of Glenmont, N.Y. Cade was the only one in the vehicle at the time and was unhurt in the fire.
Two engines and a ladder company responded to the scene. In just 10 minutes, the flames were out, Kilmer said. However the road remained closed with detours in place for about 45 minutes.
The mix of diesel fuel and fiberglass insulation caused a dramatic-looking black smoke to rise from the flames. The smoke rose high into the air and could be seen billowing into the sky from South Street.
According to Lt. Tim Bartini, the truck was hauling "lumber and wooden ladders" so there was no risk of any hazardous materials entering the environment. The trailer was not damaged by the flames, only the cab, which appeared to be an International.
Linden Street Fire in Pittsfield Ruled Arson
Staff Reports On: 08:46PM / Thursday June 26, 2014
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Authorities are offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the person or persons who started a fire late Wednesday morning on Linden Street.
The vacant four-family structure at 213 Linden St. incurred what fire officials said was "moderate damage" to the first floor and basement.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 11:49 a.m. after a passerby noted smoke coming from the building. Upon arrival, they found heavy smoke throughout the building and flames in the basement extending to the first floor.
The call went to two alarms and all on-duty personnel were called to the scene; off-duty firefighters were called in to man the stations.
It took about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control. Five engines and a ladder truck responded to the scene and Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cancilla was the officer in charge.
No civilians were injured but one firefighter incurred a muscle strain.
The state fire marshal's office and city fire and police investigators ruled the cause of the fire as arson. Anyone with information about the fire should call 1-800-682-9229.
Pittsfield: Property Crime Up, Violent Down in April
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An "unusually high" number of commercial burglaries occurred during April, according to a report released from the Police Department.
The number of burglaries more than doubled over March. The month of April saw 43 burglaries compared to just 21 in March, which has been mostly characterized by a large number of motor vehicle burglaries.
"Although the rash of motor vehicle burglaries that we saw in March died down considerably this month, it was unfortunately replaced with an unusually high number of commercial burglaries," the Police Department wrote in a monthly "city stats" report.
Burglaries are still lower than they were at this point last year. In 2013, there were 131 and, so far this year, there have been 109. However, the number of burglaries in April are 23 percent above the five-year average.
"The average increase for burglaries between March and April is five cases, but this year we have had a 22-case increase. This spike, however, can be attributed to a rash of commercial burglaries we have had this past month," the report reads.
In nearly all types of property crime — from larceny to shop lifting to motor vehicle theft — the city was above the five-year average in the month of April. The only crime trending below is larceny from a person.
Overall, April saw 135 cases of property crime compared to 100 last month. The property crime rate for April was 48 percent more than the five-year average.
Property crime has been on an uptick each month, but violent crime is significantly down.
"Recovering from some slipups last month, April has seen decreases in violent crime across the board," the report reads. "In all categories, April 2014 showed a 5 percent or higher decrease compared to the 5-year average (except for homicide, which has an average of 0 cases). The most notable difference, again, is the drastically smaller number of aggravated assault cases. Over the past five years, April usually brings an average of 12 aggravated assault incidents and this year, we have only had one."
There were two rapes, one robbery and one aggravated assault case in the city in April. The four total cases is down from nine last month.
Violent crime overall is down 78 percent in the month of April than the five-year average.