Scam Alert: Company soliciting residents to buy public records
Clerk Stacy Butterfield is advising Polk County residents to be wary of official-looking notices they receive in the mail telling them they need to purchase a copy of the deed for their property.
The notices are being sent by “Local Records Office” and inform recipients they can receive a copy of their deed by sending $89 to an address in Tallahassee.
Deeds and other official records are easily obtained online or at the clerk’s offices in Bartow, Lakeland or the Northeast Office. Hard copies are $1 per page, and a certified copy costs an additional $2. Uncertified copies may be downloaded and printed for free by using the official records search on the clerk’s website, www.polkcountyclerk.net.
“Solicitations like this may be legal, but they are misleading,” Butterfield said. “Every few years, we hear from residents who have received these notices and want to know what they should do. We want to remind people that their information is readily available online and at the courthouses — there is no need to pay that kind of money to obtain these public records.”
The records available at the clerk’s offices include deeds, mortgages, liens, court judgments and marriage licenses.
As the county recorder and custodian of legal records, the clerk maintains and ensures the integrity of the official records of Polk County, dating back to 1957.
About $3,000 reported stolen from business
An employee of Terri Lobb Catering was charged with grand theft after the owner discovered during bookkeeping that $2,840.07 was missing, a Bartow Police report said.
AnnMarie Guerra, 37, of 725 Country Walk Cove, Eagle Lake, was charged with the crime on Oct. 26, the Bartow Police Department reports.
Lobb noticed money missing from two cafe accounts and noticed there was no deposit for about two weeks. She told police that deposits are supposed to be made twice a week. She said Guerra is the person responsible for making the deposits.
On Oct. 10, Lobb said she emailed Guerra asking to speak with her privately. In the meeting, Guerra said she had misplaced the money and did not know if it was lost or stolen. She said she did not report it to the police.
Officer Britt Davis said during the investigation she got a sworn, taped statement from the victim telling about the private conversation. She also said Guerra admitted to trying to hide the fact that money was missing, police reported.
Lobb provided police with a copy of an email said to have been sent to her by Guerra where she said she lost the money and attempted to cover it up.
At 3 p.m. Oct. 26 the officer contacted Guerra and got a sworn taped statement. Guerra said she had been in control of making the deposits and she also said she altered the business’ money to try to cover up the missing money, police reported.
During the month the money was missing, Guerra said she made numerous late deposits to make it appear as if the money was not missing.
Suspect escapes arrest
A 32-year-old Bartow resident faces a charge of resisting arrest without violence when an officer tried to charge her with violation of probation on Oct. 25, the Bartow Police Department reports.
Officer Carl Smith reports he saw Angel Catrisia Matthews, address unknown, standing in the parking lot at 1050 Golfview Ave. trying to conceal her identity using the hood of jacket. He said he shouted her first name and she removed her hand from her jacket and looked directly at him, he reported. At that point he said he was able to positively identify her and then she took off running through the apartment complex.
Smith yelled out, “Stop, police. There is a warrant for your arrest.”
Matthews continued along the west side of the breezeway and Smith lost sight of her. Despite looking, he could not locate Matthews, he reported.