Archive for the ‘Safety Tips’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 5 To Drive: A Life-Saving Conversation with Your Teen

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Vehicle crashes, not guns, knives, overdose, or physical abuse, are the leading cause of death among 14-18-year-olds in the U.S. Did you know that nearly half of all teen drivers involved in car crashes die?

Have you taken the time to talk to your teen about the dangers of driving? How about the 5 to Drive rules?

1. No cell phones.

2. No extra passengers.

3. No speeding.

4. No alcohol.

5. Always buckle up.

You say you have not discussed the 5 to Drive Rules with your teen driver? Well it’s time you did…please. And here’s how to begin.

In 2013…

 

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There, see how easy it was to have the conversation?

* Above data and infographics from the National Sheriff’s Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/Traffic Safety Marketing.

PostHeaderIcon Intimate Partner Homicide: He Would Never Really Do It…Right?

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Intimate partner homicide is the 7th leading cause of premature death for women in the United States. It’s the number one cause of premature death among African American women between the ages of 15-45. Are those numbers not scary enough? How about this: Of all the women murdered in this country each year, half of them are killed by their intimate partners. And those figures do not include ex-boyfriends.

Is there a means to prevent these deaths? Should a woman be able to see this coming? Are there indicators that her partner is approaching the point of no return? Well, possibly.

Several risk factors have been associated with the murders of  battered women. However, many of the women who were killed by their domestic partner never realized the severity of the abuse. Sure, they knew they’d been beaten, had bones broken, etc., but they never actually thought they’d be killed. They suffered from the, “He’d never really do it because I know he loves me…” syndrome. And that’s not a bad thing, wanting to believe the best in your partner. But denying a problem is harmful, especially when it comes to abuse.

So what are some of the indicators that a partner’s violence may be escalating to the point of no return?

Studies have found a direct correlation between gun ownership and intimate partner homicide. In fact, women who are threatened with a gun are more likely than other women to be murdered—20 times more likely. Just the mere presence of a gun in the house causes an abused woman’s chance of being murdered to be 6 times higher than a woman living in a gun-free home.

Other risk factors include:

- Serious alcohol and drug abuse, where the abuser is high or drunk on a daily basis.

- Threats to kill

- Choking

- Jealousy

- Forced sex

- Partner controls all activity (when to leave the house, etc.)

- Woman is beaten while pregnant

- Partner beats the children

- Partner is violent outside the home as well

- Partner has threatened suicide

- Abused victim has thoughts that her partner will attempt to kill her at some point during their relationship

- Abused victim has thoughts of suicide to escape the violence

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Photo credit – FBI

Has your partner ever done or caused any of these things? If so, you are at risk. Please seek help immediately.

- Slapping, pushing—no injuries and/or lasting pain

- Punching, kicking—bruises, cuts, and/or continuing pain

- “Beating up”—severe contusions, burns, broken bones

- Threat to use weapon—head injury, internal injury, permanent injury

- Use of weapon—wounds from weapon

Ask yourself the following questions. If your answer to any of the questions is yes, you are at risk. Please seek help immediately. Do not wait!

- Has the physical violence increased in frequency over the past year?

- Does he ever try to choke you?

- Does he keep a gun in the house? In his vehicle?

- Has he ever forced you to have sex?

- Does he use drugs? Any drugs?

- Does he threaten to kill you?

- Is he drunk every every day?

- Does he control most or all of your daily activities, like who you can be friends with, how much money you can have, or when you can take the car, when can use the phone, etc.) Does he always have to be with you when you visit family, or go shopping? Does he tell what clothing you can and cannot wear?

- Have you ever been beaten by him while you were pregnant?

- Is he extremely jealous?

- Have you ever threatened or tried to commit suicide?

- Has he ever threatened or tried to commit suicide?

- Is he violent toward your children?

- Is he violent outside of the home? Does he fight with others?

Laci Peterson – murdered by her husband, Scott.

In 2008, 14% of all homicides were committed by intimate partners (70% of the victims were female).

Scott Peterson is currently awaiting his appointment with San Quentin’s executioner. He was sentenced to death for murdering his wife and unborn child, and tossing them in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve of 2002. It is believed that Peterson fabricated homemade anchors from blocks of concrete and them fastened them to Laci’s body, hoping she’d remain on the bottom of the sea, forever.

Now, Peterson spends his days playing basketball and cards with other murderers. Oh, perhaps I should mention all the letters and money he receives from female admirers from all over the world. He deposits the cash into his inmate account, spending up to $180 per month on frilly things, like soda, cookies, and deodorant.

*NIJ statistics

PostHeaderIcon I. B. Steelin: Tips On Preventing Vehicle Break-ins

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It’s me, I. B. Steelin, the guy who broke into your car last night. Sorry about having to wear the mask, but I heard a bunch of cops hang out on this site and I can’t risk going back to prison.

Anyway, thanks for leaving so many goodies on the front seat. Caught my eye right away. My kids needed the new iPod, and the wife will absolutely love the purse. Louis Vuitton, right?

Your neighbors were equally as generous. The blue house two doors down… Left their car doors unlocked, so a quick stab at the remote and, BINGO, up goes the garage door. What a field day that was…power tools and a small TV (perfect for the kids’ room, by the way). I also took a quick peek inside the house. They’ve got a really sweet flat screen and I’ll definitely be back for it another night.

Across the street… Yep, the people with the BMW. Sunroof was open again so I took the gym bag from the back seat. Not much inside but the bag was nice. The best part, though, was what I found in the glove compartment. All sorts of documents containing personal information—social security numbers, addresses, pin numbers, bank statements (I see some new charge accounts opening in the very near future), a letter from the alarm company saying they hated losing BMW’s business and that service could be reinstated for the low, low price of $19.95 per month and, well, let’s just say it was a real smorgasbord. My favorite thing, though, was the key ring…front door key, key to the business downtown, the tool shed, the rear gate…(yep, they were labeled).

There was a blue SUV on the next block. Two boxes in the rear—a microwave and a projector for a home theater. Spotted them from the street while passing by. The owner should’ve taken the time to pull the built-in cover over the cartons. But…easy money for me. Took a rock from the landscaping beside the driveway and those two sweet items were quickly in my greedy little paws. The cards read, Congratulations, Billie! So thank you very much, Billie, for whatever you did that almost earned you a couple of nice, new gifts. Mine now.

Actually, the entire neighborhood was easy-pickings. Lawns not mowed (a sure sign no one had been home for a while), newspapers piled up in the driveway, mailboxes overflowing, windows open, no lights in houses and yards, garage doors up, lawn mowers and bicycles left outside, no curtains on garage and basement windows, and there was even one house with a note pinned to the front door—“Be Back Tomorrow. Please Leave Deliveries In Kitchen. Key Under Mat.” Well, Duh. Loved the cheesecake in the fridge, by the way. And those homemade cookies…to die for.

Okay, that’s enough for now, but I’ll be back for the rest of your things. Unless, of course, you start using some common sense and lock up, close the sunroof, turn on a light or two, and activate those alarms. Until then, you’re just another number in the 1.85 million thefts from vehicles that occur each year. That number is indeed correct and, as a result, my friends and I steal approximately 1.26 BILLION items from cars each and every year.

So…thank you very much for helping us achieve our personal goals.

See you soon. Very soon…

 

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Just Say No To Weaponized Hairspray

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Due to a rise in home invasions, using hairspray as a chemical deterrent to ward off attackers has been a hot topic lately. The general idea is to keep a can handy on the nightstand beside the bed, or a smaller can inside a handbag. Then, as an unsuspecting attacker approaches, the would-be victim sprays the hair-stiffener into the thug’s eyes, causing him to stop the attack and immediately run away.

Personally, I do not recommend the use of hairspray as a means of defense against attackers. It’s not totally effective. Unlike pepper spray that can be effective without direct contact to the eyes, the burst of hairspray mist must hit the eyes directly to do any good at all. As a result, carrying the stuff gives a person a false sense of security. And, like firearms and other weapons, unless you practice/train with with your handy-dandy hairspray bad-guy-stopper, chances are that using it in real-life would be totally ineffective. I don’t believe there are any hairspray training academies in my area. Not sure about where you live.

The other premise is for the victim to use a cigarette lighter to ignite the hair goop as it leaves the nozzle, turning the misty chemical into a homemade hairspray fire-fogger. Now, what halfway intelligent crook would dare continue his advances when faced with a scared and angry, fire-spurting homeowner?

Well, the ideas are good—spray the attacker’s eyes which could render him incapable of continuing the assault, or, set his hair on fire causing him to run outside looking like a human 4th of July fireworks display. But, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. For obvious reasons, remember to use the aerosol hairspray, not the pump type. The idea is to stop the attacker, not give him his recommended daily dose of laughter.

2. The actuators (push buttons) on aerosol cans are normally made of plastic and could melt when exposed to prolonged extreme heat/fire.

3. The flame generated using a hairspray can extends only as far as the distance reached by the spray, which is basically a couple of feet. Therefore, an attacker could simply wait at a safe distance—four feet, or so—while your weapon slowly burns up/extinguishes. Or, he could stand at a safe distance and roast a marshmallow or two while waiting for the flame to subside. Also, if the attacker is only two feet away when the victim begins the process of match-striking and spray-squirting, he could easily disarm the victim.

4. While standing in your bedroom, striking matches and flicking Bic’s, an attacker could easily grab the blanket from your bed, toss it over you and your flamethrower, and then beat you senseless with your own fuzzy orangutan slippers .

5. If the spray fails to ignite, you will have merely succeeded in helping your attacker keep his “Do” in fabulous shape for his appearance at your neighbors house…after blacking your eyes and stealing your stuff.

Of course, you could always switch to deodorant as a source of power for your flamethrower/chemical deterrent. At least then the attacker would smell nice while he pounded out a rhythmic Latin beat on your head.

A prime example was the fight between two Michigan women where one grabbed a can of hairspray, aimed it at her opponent, and set the stream on fire. Well, the flame never reached the other woman, who grabbed a lamp and hit the fire-sprayer with it. When police arrived they found scratches on the faces of both women…and a broken lamp.

Of course, there’s a more deadly use for hairspray…

Way back when (sometime during the late 1980’s), Virginia coalminers decided to strike, becoming rowdy in the process, and when the state police moved in to restore order they were met by jack rocks in the roadways (jack rocks are large, sharpened metal objects shaped like jacks—kid toys—designed to flatten car tires), gunfire, and incoming spuds fired from potato cannons.

The VSP spent nearly $200,000 to replace flattened car tires during the period when over 400 troopers were assigned to the area on a rotating basis.

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Jack rocks are sold openly on eBay for use as “defensive spikes”

The state police spent nearly $8 million keeping the peace during the nine month strike.

Anyway, back to Potato cannons. They’re simple devices, generally made from PVC pipe, a source of ignition, such as a barbecue grill spark-lighter, and an accelerate, such as hairspray. Users wedge a potato into the open end of the cannon, squirt hairspray into the area where the igniter is installed, close the cap, and then flick the igniter. The spark ignites the hairspray which then propels the potato. A simple, yet effective process.

Also for sale on eBay…

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Another eBay item is a potato cannon called the City Slicker. Sellers advertise this weapon/toy has having a loud discharge. In addition to launching a potato over a great distance, it reportedly shoots an 18 inch flame from the barrel when fired.

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City Slicker Potato/Tennis Ball Cannon ~ $49.95

During the time of the troubles with the coal miners, I just happened to be at the State Police Academy for in-service training and was lucky enough to be one of the cops chosen to test fire potato cannons. The idea was to see how much damage they could do and then relay our findings to the troopers assigned to the mountain areas where the strike was taking place. So, after firing a couple hundred pounds of spuds at various targets, we learned that the force generated is often great enough to send a spud through plywood, cinder blocks, and even the door of a passing trooper’s car. The cannons were surprisingly powerful.

Below is a video recorded by author and Florida law enforcement officer James O. Born. In the brief film, Jim demonstrates how to fire a potato cannon. His target is a bit…well, unconventional, but the action is real. You’ll notice a large cap on the rear end of the cannon. That’s where hairspray is applied. And, you’ll see Jim holding the ignition switch in his right hand.

Take it way, Jim…

 

PostHeaderIcon A Burglar’s Helper: Yes, You!

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Sure, your brand new TV was expensive. So was your kid’s Xbox and your husband’s collection of solid gold and diamond-studded Three Stooges bobble-heads. I know, you locked all your doors and every window latch was secured before you and your family drove down to Sally’s Slippery Seal Sanctuary to see the animals perform their rendition of Flipper, The Musical.

Yes, it does seem as if the crooks knew exactly what they wanted and where it was.

How could you prevent a future burglary?

Well…

First of all, and this is just an FYI in case one of your writer friends asks, when someone breaks into your home and then steals something that’s a burglary, not a robbery.

Robbery occurs when a crook uses physical force, threat, or intimidation to steal someone’s property. If the robber uses a weapon the crime becomes armed robbery, or aggravated robbery, depending on local law. There is always a victim present during a robbery.

For example, you are walking down the street and a guy brandishes a handgun and demands your money. That’s robbery.

Burglary is an unlawful entry into any building with the intent to commit a crime. Typically, there is no one inside the building when a burglary occurs. No physical breaking and entering is required to commit a burglary. A simple trespass through an open door or window, and the theft of an item or items, is all that’s necessary to meet the requirements to be charged with burglary.

For example, as in what happened at your house tonight, you are out for the night. That was a burglary.

In fact, had you been are at home asleep in your bed when the suspect broke in and took your things, it’s a burglary because you weren’t actually threatened by anyone.

Okay, let’s run down my checklist to be sure you’re doing all you can to prevent future burglaries.

1. Burglars used YOUR ladder to get inside. Be sure to move it out of the yard and store it inside the garage, or maybe in the basement or storage building. Out of sight, out of mind.

2. When you’re finished moving the ladder take a few extra minutes to trim the bushes, shrubs, etc. around the house. You don’t want the overgrown nandina providing a hiding place for the bad guys.

3. Motion-detector lights are a great addition, but are not perfect, not by any means. Savvy burglars often test this tactic by getting close enough to activate the lighting and then hide, watching and waiting to see if the homeowner checks to see what made the lights switch on. No response to the sudden illumination can be a green light for the criminal to proceed.

4. I know you’re as proud as a peacock about that gorgeous mirror hanging in the foyer, and you should be. It’s really nice. However, the reflection seen from the window at front door is that of your security system panel, into your living room, and down the hallway. A quick peek through the glass and a burglar can see if your alarm system is activated, or not, how many people are in the living room, if any, and where the TV and other valuables are positioned in the room. Not to mention that it’s creepy to expose so much of your personal space.

5. Social media. Do I need to say anything about how foolish it is to post your whereabouts every second of the day? Announcing to the world that you and your family are on vacation for two weeks is not a good idea. Nor is it a good idea to post photos of every single room in your house. Doing so is like posting blueprints and an inventory list of your things.

Bad guys troll these sites to pick and choose where they want to go based on what YOU’VE told and shown them.

“Here’s my new 200 inch flat screen and, by the way, we’re going to be away for a week. I hope Killer, our guard dog enjoys his time at the kennel while we’re gone. The house will be totally vacant for a week. What fun we’re going to have! See you when we get back, in a week.”

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You are aware that geotagging features on cellphones, when activated, contain the latitude and longitude of exactly where a phone was when photos were taken, right? That means, for example, your kid takes a selfie inside her bedroom and then posts it to Facebook. The location of that bedroom/house and your precious DAUGHTER is now online and available to every pervert in the world.

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6. Advertising sale items on online sites is popular, but you should not invite “buyers” to your home. Doing so is practically an open invitation for burglars to check out you and your things, or even worse. For example, the man who advertised a motorcycle on the popular site, Craigslist. When a potential buyer called and expressed interest in the bike, the owner invited the caller to come over and have a look. In short, the buyer showed up, shot and killed the owner, and then stole the motorcycle. How safe do you think the family and neighbors felt in the days, weeks, and months afterward?

Have buyers meet you in public places, such as the parking lot of your local police department.

7. Remember the day you bought that big TV, and when you removed it from the carton you placed the box at the curb for recycle pick-up? Well, you just told everyone who passes by, including burglars cruising neighborhoods, that you’re the proud owner of a brand new, giant TV that’s cost more than the cars driven by many people. Shred the cardboard. Smash the carton. Do whatever it takes to break it down in a way that makes it impossible to know what was once inside.

8. Yes, you do live in the safest neighborhood in the city. But that’s no reason to not lock your doors and windows. Someday it could happen to you…

 

PostHeaderIcon Tips to Avoid Scams

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Saving money these days is often far easier said than done. So when we do manage to set aside a few pennies it’s extremely important to protect ourselves against the predators who’d like nothing better than to get their sticky fingers on the contents of our piggy banks. Here are a few tips from the National Sheriff’s Association to help us safeguard against scammers and thieves.

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Identity theft is such a big problem during tax season because it’s when people gather all of their sensitive information into one place, making it easiest for criminals to steal information and tax refunds.

Some ways identity theft criminals can find your personal information are:

  • From their friends or acquaintances
  • By posing through a phone call or an email as someone who needs your information
  • By looking through your trash for personal information
  • By accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site or via a public Wi-Fi service

To avoid giving your personal information to identity theft criminals, follow the Indiana Department of Revenue’s four identity protection tips:

  1. Don’t share your Social Security number (SSN) unless you have to. And never give it to a person when you did not make the initial contact.
  2. Don’t leave your W-2s lying around. This gives visitors going in and out of your home access to them. Instead, keep your tax documents in a safe, locked box.
  3. After you electronically file your tax return, save the file to a CD, USB drive, or external drive and then delete the return from your computer. Store the device in a safe, locked place. This ensures hackers can’t steal your information
  4. File your taxes electronically. It is significantly more secure than paper filing. Individual taxpayers may qualify to file their taxes online for free at www.freefile.dor.in.gov.

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Tips to Avoid Email Scams:

Don’t believe what you see. Scammers easily duplicate a real business’ logo and/or email address.

Place your mouse over hyper-linked text and the true destination will appear.

Do not click on links or open the files in emails from people you don’t know.

Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they’ve originated from your computer. If you see one that warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.

Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos.

Ignore calls for immediate action. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it.

 *Lee Lofland and The Writers’ Police Academy are proud supporters/members of the National Sheriff’s Association.

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