February 05. 2013 6:37PM

Hooksett chamber hosts talk on fraud and theft prevention

Union Leader Correspondent

HOOKSETT - Would-be writers of bad checks just need to be reminded of the consequences of their actions, a police official told a group of business people Tuesday.

"Sometimes, all they need to see is us show up in our shiny uniforms and our shiny cars," said Hooksett Police Sgt. Janet Bouchard at a Hooksett Chamber of Commerce event. "Then they know that this is something serious. They can be prosecuted for this."

Employees from several local businesses attended the session to learn more about fraud and theft prevention.

Bouchard walked the attendees through the laws and police procedures surrounding bad checks, fraud and shoplifting. She said police can help businesses in many of these cases, but that businesses seeking help need to keep in mind the high standard of proof required in a criminal prosecution and the steps a business must take to win a case.

Photo IDs and cameras transmitting to an external hard drive are two ways to provide helpful evidence, Bouchard said,

"For prosecution and law enforcement, it's so easy to have it on camera. You can't deny video," she said. "It sounds like lazy police work, but it's all about proving it once you get into court."

Given this high burden of proof, and the uncertain outcome with the courts, Bouchard also spoke at length on the option of civil court, but with a caveat: A criminal case can become a civil case immediately if any kind of payment or restitution is made outside of the court.

"After we've begun the criminal process, if at any time you accept any sort of payment, you have to inform us, and at that point we'll tell you that the case is considered civil, and we will close it," she said. Such a move is often irreversible.

"You kind of have to pick one or the other," Bouchard said. "I tell people, if you want your money, go the civil route or have me give them a call and try and get them to pay you. Sometimes we do have to go the criminal route . and some businesses in town feel like, 'No, this is the seventh time they've written a bad check, and I don't want to give them a break.' It's really case by case."