Law enforcement is ramping up for the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat.
Meanwhile, petty crimes related to the faceoff have cropped up: An unsuspecting herd of buffalo cutouts were stripped of their Thunder T-shirts on Sunday outside of MA+ Architecture, 4000 N Classen Blvd. And police are warning people to be on the lookout for parking scams.
Oklahoma City police, Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service and “pretty much everybody you can think of” will supersize security during the games, Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said Monday.
They'll be looking for ticketing problems, parking problems, and fraudulent merchandise, among other things.
Due to security concerns, Nelson couldn't say how many law enforcement officers will be on the ground, in the air and on raised platforms above the crowd on game days. But he did say the number will surpass anything so far. That means there will be more than the 120 to 140 officers stationed near Chesapeake Energy Arena for recent games.
Police have had to crack down on a lot crimes related to Thunder madness, Nelson said.
The vice squad has been handling more prostitution investigations. Women in the sex trade have been out in higher numbers, probably because of the larger crowds in Oklahoma City, Nelson said.
A homeless man who typically takes advantage of crowds for any number of events — from concerts to the circus — was caught scamming parkers out of money before a Thunder game in lots he does not own.
“If you are parking in a lot, do the best you can to verify that that person actually works for the lot,” Nelson said.
Those duped into parking illegally are vulnerable to towing, though lot owners haven't taken it to that level yet, Nelson said.
As for the case of the stripped buffalo, a statement from MA+ Architecture said the staff dressed the herd in Thunder gear about a month ago. Thieves not only took the T-shirts, but purloined a buffalo, too.
The thieves may have gotten away, but they failed to dampen the spirits of the architectural firm's workers, reported Gary Armbruster, a principal and architect for the firm.
“We're like the Thunder, we never quit,” he said in the statement. “We're going to replace the missing buffalo and put new T-shirts on the herd. In fact, our ‘Tee-Pee' has been added with Thunder pennants on top. We're all excited about the Thunder's success and we are going to support them all the way through the season. We'll watch the herd a little closer.”
Contributing: Tiffany Gibson