Tuesday, July 17, 2018

MAIL THEFT PREVENTION- Informed Delivery by the US Postal Service

Mail theft continues to be a problem. Two ways you can use to protect your mail from theft is to use a locking mailbox and to pick up your mail as soon after delivery as you can.

The Postal Service offers an Informed Delivery service that tells you what mail is on the way to your mailbox. In a daily email, the Postal Service can show you a greyscale image of the exterior of any letter sized mail. This allows you to be alerted to any important mail that may have sensitive account or other information that is on the way to your mailbox. With Informed Delivery you can also track packages that will be delivered by your letter carrier.

For more information on Informed Delivery and to sign up for this free service go to this link,

US Postal Service:

Monday, July 16, 2018

SKIMMING AND SHIMMING- Two Forms of Identity Theft

You have probably heard of skimming, where an identity thief uses a device attached to an ATM or gas pump to collect your credit or debit card account information. The ID thief attaches a reader that looks like it fits in with the ATM or gas pump. The reader collects the information from users of the ATM/gas pump, then the ID thief discretely comes by to collect that information for his/her own use or to sell to others.

Recent information has come out that at least gas pump manufacturers are trying to respond to the threat of skimming. According to the San Antonio Police Department, so far this year they have found more than 100 skimming devices in area fuel pumps. While that is more than the total found in 2017, they noted to the security blog Krebs on Security that more of the skimmers were found in older pumps that have vertical card readers and flat, membrane-based keypads. The police department did not find skimmers on newer pumps that have horizontal card readers and raised metallic keypads. The newer pumps also have other security features that make it difficult for an unauthorized person to gain access to the pump.

Skimmers rarely have an obvious sign that they have been attached to an ATM or gas pump. At gas pumps, look for newer pumps with the horizontal card readers and the raised metallic keypads. Also, check the reader and other areas of the pump, or ATM, for loose parts, indicating that someone has added unauthorized equipment.

ID thieves have found a way to get around the new chip bankcards, sort of. The idea of the chip is to make the information that is transacted between the vendor and the financial institution more secure. ID thieves have found a way to insert a paper thin “shim” into POS card readers that you might find at a fast food restaurant or a grocery store. The shim can read the information on the magnetic tape portion of the card. While the shim can read the tape, it still cannot read the information from the chip. The difference is that the ID thief can collect your account information for use in online transactions but cannot create a counterfeit card that will work with a pin reader.

Like skimmers, a shim is extremely difficult to detect visually. After all, the shim is inserted into the slot where you slide you card. Security experts do point out that sometimes POS terminals with shims may have some resistance when you insert your card. So, look for that resistance when you insert your card.

And if you suspect that an ATM, gas pump, or POS card reader has a skimmer or shim, contact the vendor.

For more about skimmers and shimmers, check out the following links,


Krebs on Security:

Freeport, TX Police Department:



Krebs on Security:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

CRIME PREVENTION- 9:00pm Routine

Good crime prevention often involves habits. Getting into the habit of locking your doors when you leave your house. Having the habit of locking your car door when you leave it to go into a store or a restaurant.

Police departments throughout the country are trying a gentle reminder to encourage all of us to get into the habit of locking our car doors and taking out anything that we might have left in it at night before we go to bed. They send a nightly tweet at about 9pm on week days with the hashtag #9PMROUTINE to remind citizens to lock things up.

Car prowlers are a problem at night in residential areas. Being sure to take out anything in the car and locking it will encourage most car prowlers and car thieves to go someplace else for an easier target. #9PMROUTINE targets those crimes by encouraging all of us to take simple measures to protect our property.

Local police departments that are experimenting with this campaign include those from Snohomish, Renton, and Puyallup. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida claims a 30 percent decrease in car prowls in the past year because of this campaign in their county.

Modern crime prevention has long relied on cooperation between the public and local law enforcement agencies. Being sure to take everything out of your car and locking it will save bigger problems in the future from a car prowl or a car theft.


Fox 13, Tampa, Florida:

Friday, July 13, 2018

SUMMER BOATING- Be Sure to Boat Safely While on the Water

Every summer we see the headlines about boating accidents that injure or kill people having fun on the water. Reasons for the tragedies can include reckless boating, not wearing life jackets, drinking while boating (known as Boating Under the Influence, BUI) among others.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Marine Services Unit recommends you do the following when you go boating:

·         Know the waterway. Stumps, sand and gravel bars, deadheads etc. can stop or sink your boat.

·         File a float plan with a relative or a friend so that they can call 911 if you do not return when expected.

·         Wear a life jacket.

·         Take a seat, DO NOT ride on the bow, gunwales or transoms of your boat.

·         Take a course and carry your boater education card.

·         Don’t drink and boat.

For more about boater safety, go to,

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

United States Coast Guard:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

TRAIL CAR PROWLS- Three Snohomish Car Prowlers Caught in Okanogan County

According to the Methow Valley News, three suspected car prowlers were apprehended in Mazama for a series of car prowls at trail heads in the area. The alleged car prowlers were from Everett, Sultan, and Lake Stevens. The car prowlers took cash, credit/debit cards, and computers.

Reports of car prowls at trail heads began in early June. In a cooperative effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, investigators identified a red Pontiac which eventually lead to an arrest of the three suspects in Mazama. Investigators recovered other people’s property in the car including driver’s licenses, checkbooks, credit/debit cards, a laptop computer and clothing.

When we go into the mountains for a hike, we may not think of the trail as a place for a property crime like a car prowl.  But it can happen at a trail head just as easily as in the mall parking lot or overnight in front of your house. Trail head parking lots often do not have many people around, an ideal situation for car prowlers to take the opportunity to steal whatever is in your car without being seen. Sometimes, potential prowlers will hang out in the parking lot to see who has put away potential valuables. Then when no one is around, they can break a window to gain access to the vehicle and to the trunk.

When you go hiking, keep the following in mind:

·         Do not take anything that you do not need on your hike with you. Keep your valuables at home.

·         If you plan on putting anything in your trunk, put it there at home before you leave. Car prowlers could see what you have put in your trunk at the trail head.

·         Keep a lookout for any “suspicious” people who seem to be just hanging out, not readying themselves to go on a hike, or getting ready to leave the area. Write down a description and a license number of their vehicle if you safely can.

·         Take items such as your driver’s license, credit/debit cards, phone, etc. with you on the trail.

·         Do not leave anything in view in your vehicle when you leave for your hike, not even an empty duffle bag, backpack, or a bag with garbage. Car prowlers will them as an opportunity to steal.

·         Some people go to the extent of emptying their glove compartment and leaving its door open to show that there is nothing there. There have reports in the past, of car prowlers taking car registrations at movie theaters then going to the victim’s house to burglarize it. This scenario may be far fetched for a distant trail head, but car registrations can also be used in identity theft schemes.

·         Lock your car. While some people say that they leave their parked car unlocked, most deputies would not recommend leaving your car unlocked. An unlocked car is easier to steal, so if the suspect needs wheels, he/she could take your unlocked car. Also, car prowls are crimes of opportunity. A car prowler most likely is not going to break into a car if he/she does not think that there is something worthwhile stealing.   

·         If you do see anyone suspicious, or if your car is broken into, report it to the nearest ranger station.

Methow Valley News:

Washington Trails Association:

Sunday, July 8, 2018

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Crime Stats Show Decline in Most Categories

Crime statistics as published in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office 2017 Annual Report shows a decline in most crime categories. The statistics only include unincorporated Snohomish County and the 7 cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Office for police services (including Darrington, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, index, Snohomish, Stanwood and Sultan). It does not include statistics from incorporated cities such as Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, etc.). The report shows an increase in 4 categories.

The crime categories showing a decrease include:

·         Assault-  Down 2%

·         Robbery- Down 9.9%

·         Burglary- Down 11.8%

·         Malicious Mischief- Down 2.3%

·         Traffic- Down 1.4%

Categories showing an increase include:

·         Vehicle Theft- 10.3%

·         Theft- 4.8%

·         Domestic Violence- 4.2%

·         Collision-  0.9%

While clearly crime has not ended, the reduction in several categories shows a positive trend.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office: