Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MUKILTEO- Two Women Call CPS to Help Abused Girl

On Sunday, December 22, The Herald published an article about two sales clerks who called Child Protective Services (CPS) when they saw a girl come into their department who looked gaunt and malnourished. (For details of the story, go to

The Herald story brings up two thoughts. First, crime can come in ways that you might not expect. You might think of crime in the sense of burglaries, assaults and robberies. But there are also crimes to people such as human trafficking or child abuse that may not have an obvious telltale sign that tips the average person off that something is wrong.

Second, it can take courage to call 911 or other authority when you see something suspicious or a crime in progress. The way the girl looked to the two women was obviously suspicious. But making the call did take courage. They had some apprehension that their suspicions might be wrong. There was also the childhood memories of one of the women when she was abused. While these were not concerns about retribution from a burglar or robber, the incident did bring up emotions and trauma from the past.  

This article does point out the importance of calling 911. In this case, the women’s call helped a child to leave an abusive situation. Your call to 911 can help someone else who might be in trouble.

Friday, December 20, 2013

SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Using Social Media to Catch Crooks

In a recent press release, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has pointed out three incidents where social media, YouTube specifically, has helped it to apprehend suspects in three crimes.

  1. A November 5 case where suspects were seen on camera using stolen credit cards at the Seattle Premium Mall. After publishing the video on YouTube, the Sheriff’s Office received several tips that led to the apprehension of a 32 year-old Granite Falls man. The Sheriff’s Office is currently looking for 26 year-old Melissa Linder, who is believed to be the female in the video, for forgery, identity theft, and possession of stolen property (
  2. A November 6 incident when two brothers were caught on video stealing various items including guns and ammunition from a home. Within a day of the release of video on YouTube, the Sheriff’s Office received 25 tips that helped it to apprehend the older brother. This case has been referred to the Snohomish County Prosecutors Office with a recommendation of charges of first degree burglary (
  3. The third incident occurred on November 9 when two men assaulted a cab driver and attempted to force him to withdraw cash from an ATM. Tips from the public helped to capture a 27 year-old black male. The Sheriff’s Office is still looking for white male suspect who was seen in the video. This suspect is known to hang out in the area of 164th St near Lynnwood and is believed to live or have friends in the area (

Note: In these early years of social media, the Sheriff’s Office needs to explore ways to effectively use social media in order to enforce the law and prevent crime. The three examples above shows the efforts that the Sheriff’s Office is making to experiment with new technology. In each of the examples, the Sheriff’s Office was able to post the videos in a place where the public could easily see them (the Sheriff’s Office’s YouTube account is . It also used Twitter (@SnoCoSheriff) and Facebook ( as well as traditional media (TV, radio and newspapers) to advertise the video clips.

In addition, in each of the incidents, video was an important element in identifying the suspects and documenting their actions. It also demonstrates that tips from the public are important to enforcing the law and that the Sheriff’s Office takes the tips it receives very seriously.

Social media is an important tool for the Sheriff’s Office to communicate with the public. It leverages the Sheriff’s Office’s ability to communicate as well as giving it the capability to communicate rapidly. Social media provides several methods to contact the public which may become a challenge to manage by the Sheriff’s Office. But in using all available methods, the Sheriff’s Office can ensure the greatest coverage of important information.

We cannot know how the Sheriff’s Office will develop social media in the future as a tool to protect our society from crime. It is important that the Sheriff’s Office continue to use and to grow this new tool to the benefit of all of us.   


Thursday, December 19, 2013

MUKILTEO- Thieves Try to Steal from Delivery Truck

On Tuesday, December 17, Mukilteo and Everett police apprehended three people who were accused of following a delivery truck in an attempt to steal packages.

A homeowner saw the three following the truck and called 911. Everett police found the suspects and impounded their truck. Two of the three had warrants for their arrest and were booked into jail. The third suspect was released. Police continue to investigate.

Note: Package thieves often follow delivery trucks to pick up packages left at home door steps. Due to the alert actions of the homeowner in calling 911, the police were able to disrupt a package theft ring and to apprehend two suspects with arrest warrants.

With Christmas rapidly coming, the potential for mail theft continues. Calling 911 when you see suspicious activity like this can deliver results.

For more details about this incident go to:

The Herald


Recent postings about package theft prevention:


Friday, December 13, 2013

CELL PHONES AND 911- Tell 911 Where You Are Located

With almost everyone carrying cell phones, it’s much easier to call 911 when you have an emergency or see a crime or suspicious activity in progress. You can be anywhere when you need to make that call; walking around in your neighborhood, driving to the store, or at home.

While your smartphone can determine your location with GPS technology you might expect that calling 911 gives your location to 911 call takers/dispatchers. This is not necessarily the case. Many 911 agencies can receive location information of cell phones using the nearest cell tower. However, this information is highly inaccurate in that it can determine location only down to several hundred yards. Inaccurate location information can be a challenge for emergency responders to find anyone who needs their help.

Our county has “Enhanced 911” that provides exact address locations for 911 callers. But this is only for “old fashioned” landlines. And 911 call takers routinely ask for the address from 911 callers to verify the address on their screens since databases can be inaccurate. Nationwide, about 38% of households have cut their ties to landline phones, relying solely on their cell phones to make calls at home. This saves money, but at the expense of the safety net of “Enhanced 911” in case they cannot talk when they call 911.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 75% of calls placed to 911 agencies in California during a recent 18 month period, were placed using cell phones. So if we continue to rely more and more on cell phones instead of traditional landlines, knowing where we are will become more important in the future in the case of an emergency. While we can expect the technology to improve, giving 911 agencies the capability to locate us, that technology is not available now in way that 911 agencies can use accurately and quickly. And it may take longer than we might expect to implement location technology.

So the lesson is to be ready to give your location to the call taker when you call 911. Where your emergency is occurring is almost more important that what is going on. If the dispatcher doesn’t know where to send the fire trucks or the police, knowing that something is going on is almost useless.

For more information about this issue go to:

The Wall Street Journal-

The Herald-


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LYNNWOOD- Sheriff’s Office Looking for Two Assailants

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is looking for two assailants who attacked and robbed a taxi driver around midnight on December 3. The assailants stole cash and a credit card in addition to beating the taxi driver in the vicinity of the 16600 block of Sixth Avenue W. in Lynnwood. The assailants forced the driver to go to a convenience store to withdraw money from an ATM. When that effort failed, the assailants fled.

One suspect is believed to be Eric T. Johnson, 27 (shown in the accompanying picture). Johnson is known to frequent bus stops and homeless shelters in the south Everett, Lynnwood and north Seattle area. The other suspect has not been identified.  He is white, about 6 feet tall, and weighs around 200 pounds. During the crime he wore glasses.

If you have any information about the two suspects please call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 425-388-3845.

For more information, and pictures, about this crime go to:

The Herald:



Sunday, December 8, 2013

LAKE STEVENS- Citizen Tip Leads to Mail Theft Investigation

Deputies, sergeants and lieutenants in the Sheriff’s Office often talk about the importance of citizens reporting suspicious activity in a timely manner to 911. This article from The Herald is a case in point.

In early November, a condo owner noticed a woman putting what appeared to be mail in a condo complex trash bin. The condo owner called 911. A Lake Stevens police officer found the suspect in a car with “a large amount of mail.” The suspect couldn’t give a good story why she had so much mail in her car. Lake Stevens’ detectives and the United States Postal Service are investigating the woman.

This is a case where a citizen’s tip has led to an investigation of a serious crime. While some calls to 911 may not turn into important investigations, local police agencies appreciate receiving this information.

The Herald article pointed out that mail theft is a major method for ID thieves to get personal information. And with the increased volume of mail during this holiday season, there is an increased opportunity for mail thieves to steal identities. Some ways that you can prevent mail theft are:

  • Check your mail regularly.
  • Use a locked mailbox or a post office box.
  • On vacation have the post office hold your mail for you (you can go online for this service at or have a trust neighbor pick up your mail.
  • Call 911 if you see someone hanging around your mailbox or following the letter carrier or other delivery services (UPS, Federal Express).

The Herald:

This older article about mail theft, on page 3, from the Sheriff’s Office’s July/August 2002 issue of the crime prevention newsletter is still valid:

Friday, December 6, 2013

CELL PHONE THEFT- Prevent Theft and Loss

Theft of cell phones can happen to anyone. In many parts of the country cell phone theft appears to be on the rise (see this recent CNET article While cell phone thefts have not had much publicity in the press in the Puget Sound region lately, it can happen here.

It’s wise to take practical measures to protect your cell phone or smart phone from someone grabbing it and running down the street with your contacts and private information. You can do that by protecting your phone and by securing it so that strangers do not have access to your information if you lose it or it is stolen.

To protect your phone, Jessica Dolcourt of CNET makes the following recommendations (

  1. Put a case on your phone. In addition to protecting it from scratches, a case can mask the distinctive markings of your phone. This way if a potential thief is looking for a “hot” phone and yours is a “hot” phone, he or she won’t be attracted to it.
  2. Hold on to your phone firmly in public. When you do have to use you phone walking down the street, hold on to it firmly. Whether you spread your fingers over the phone, or hold onto it with both hands as the author suggests, don’t hold on to your phone lightly. Also, use a Bluetooth device to talk on your smart phone. This way the location of your phone is not obvious to passersby and you can still talk to your friends or associates.
  3. Be alert to your surroundings when using your phone. The author calls this “Adopt a paranoid posture.” You don’t have to look paranoid in a way that attracts attention to yourself. But, like you should be anyway, be aware of your surroundings while using your phone. Don’t be so engrossed in your conversation (or your tunes) that you are not looking around, or walking down the street with confidence and purpose. If you are not aware of your surroundings, you look like you are not aware of what is around you and you become a target for a thief.
  4. “Embrace the art of misdirection.” If a stranger on the bus asks if your phone is that latest, fanciest model that just came out, tell them no. It’s an old model that isn’t working too well.
  5. Keep your phone out of sight and hard to get to. If no one can see your phone, thieves can’t be attracted to it. But even if it is in your pocket, thieves often know the common places where people keep their phones. The best place to store your phone is in an inside pocket of a jacket. Another good place is in an inside pocket of a purse with the clasp closed or the zipper closed. And also, hold the purse close to your body.
If your phone is stolen, report it immediately to your carrier. They can put it on a blacklist to block phone calls and data plan usage. Activate any phone tracking features and phone management features, such as phone wiping. Also, report the theft to the police. They may not be able to recover your phone right away, but they can put together case if they find a thief with your phone and it has been reported stolen.

Prepare for the worst by taking advantage of the security features of your phone.

  1. Lock your phone. By doing this you set up a simple passcode that you use to access your phone. This way a stranger cannot get into your phone.
  2. Learn how to use the “find my phone” feature of your phone. This way, if you lose it or it is stolen, you can find it on a map.
The following article gives instructions for the security features of each of the major smartphone operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows phone):


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE- November/December Crime Prevention Newsletter

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has released its November/December issue of “Partners in Crime Prevention.” This is its annual holiday issue giving tips on crime prevention for the holidays. It also talks about placing “Security Freezes” with the major credit reporting agencies.

You can find it at:

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE- September/October Crime Prevention Newsletter

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has released its September/October issue of “Partners in Crime Prevention.” This issue focuses on local drug trends and where to get help for teens on drugs.

You can find it at: