Monday, August 25, 2014

PASSWORDS– Ways to Make Them Stronger

Passwords are a pain. But until someone comes up with another method to determine that you are who you say you are, that is generally accepted, passwords are probably the best way to keep your important information safe.

You may have seen recommendations for “strong” passwords. But just what makes a password strong. Here are a few hints:

Make your password long. Eight characters is the minimum. 14 characters is better. 25 is better yet. Where you can, make your password longer than shorter.
    1. Make your password long. Eight characters is the minimum. 14 characters is better. 25 is better yet. Where you can, make your password longer than shorter.
    2. Use a combination of letters and numbers. Letters, numbers, upper case, lower case and symbols make your password harder to crack.
    3. Avoid words that are in dictionaries. Embed numbers and symbols in a word. Or think of a sentence or series of words that have meaning to you, and use the first letter of each word as your password.
    4. Substitute characters. For example, for the letter “O” use the number zero (0). For “S” use the dollar sign ($).
    5. Avoid easy-to-guess words. Such as your name, company name, hometown, pets’ names. Avoid your birthday or ZIP code. Also, avoid the word “password” or consecutive letters or numerals such as 1234 or “qwerty.”
    6. Never reuse passwords on other accounts. An exception may be an account that does not have your credit card or bank account numbers or other personal information such as a newspaper website.
    7. If offered, consider using an option of using two passwords. Gmail offers this when you use a particular computer or device for the first time. With this feature, the service will send a text message to your phone with a code when you try to use the service for the first time from an unrecognized device. You then enter the code from the new device to gain access. The code then expires.

While these measures seem like a hassle, they make it harder for hackers to guess your passwords and gain access to your private information.

The Seattle Times-

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

EVERETT– ID Thieves from Florida Strike the Northwest

The Herald recently published an interesting article about a gang of Florida-based ID thieves who conducted a series of ID thefts in Snohomish County.

The gang is called the Felony Lane Gang. It often drives up to banks using the farthest outside drive up lane to pass checks using false identities. The gang believes that using an outside lane makes them less visible to tellers and surveillance cameras.
The gang was in the area last fall. Several police agencies, including the FBI, and the Everett, Mill Creek and Bothell police departments are conducting investigations based on crimes by this gang. Snohomish County prosecutors have filed felony charges against one gang member who is from Hollywood, Florida.

The gang typically targets park, ball field, community center, gym and day-care center parking lots. These are locations where many people will leave their wallets and purses in their cars.
In a September 2013 case, a Mukilteo woman’s driver’s license was stolen as she dropped off her children at a day-care center. Afterward, someone withdrew $2,400 from her bank. Then, her name and identification were used to cash a $3,407 check from another person’s account at an Everett credit union. The second victim’s checkbook was stolen from the University of Washington hospital.

In a Pierce County case, someone stole a woman’s driver’s license, Social Security card, checkbook and seven credit cards after breaking into her car parked at a YMCA in Gig Harbor. That same day, members of the gang allegedly cashed two checks, one for $990 the other for $996 on the woman’s account at two banks within a 45-minute period. The following day, they cashed a man’s stolen checks making them payable to the woman whose identification that been stolen. The checks were cashed at three banks in a one-hour period totaling almost $3,000.
Deputies and crime prevention professionals often counsel the public not to keep anything visible in their parked vehicles. The way this gang operates should reinforce that advice. They look for easy targets where car drivers have left their wallets or purses un- attended. They look for those targets in places where drivers are most likely to leave those items in their cars. Often victims will run into a convenience store or day-care center for “just a minute” only to return to their car to find their wallet or purse stolen.

While this gang has apparently left the Puget Sound region, others use similar methods to steal people’s identities from their cars.
The article quotes Mukilteo detective Nicole Stone as warning:

‘ “Never leave your purse or wallet in your car,” she said. “I don't care if it's locked, unlocked or even if you have a car alarm. It only takes seconds.” ‘
For more details about this gang, go to:

The Herald-

Monday, August 18, 2014

MONROE– Meetings About Drugs Along the Highway 2 Corridor

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation recently sponsored two meetings concerning drug use along the Highway 2 corridor. The meetings were held at the Snohomish Library and the Monroe Library where panelists from local law enforcement agencies and social service agencies took questions from the audience about drugs and drug use.

Panelists at the Monroe meeting included:

During the Monroe meeting, held on Thursday August 14 at the Monroe Library, the following points were brought out:

  • Drug addiction often fosters crime to feed the drug habit. Currently, Organized Retail Crime and EBT theft are crimes that are taking the lead. But often, burglaries and car prowls are also motivated by a drug addiction.
  • Kids want to believe that there are good drugs and bad drugs. The best way to view drugs is their danger to be addictive. It is the addiction that causes problems for an individual’s body and to society.
  • Most youth begin using drugs in 7th or 8th grade.
  • Youth may be using marijuana more thinking that now that it is legal for adults, it is Ok for them to use also. While the statistics are not in yet, most of the panelists expect the use of marijuana by teens to rise. Also, in Colorado, crime in general has decreased, but DUI’s have increased.
  • It’s important to start talking to your children when they are young about what is safe and not safe to ingest into their bodies. It’s important to reinforce these messages throughout their youth.
  • Most panelists observed that youth get their start with drugs by using marijuana. Other “gateway” drugs can also include hookah pipes, alcohol and prescription drugs.
  • Heroin and meth continue to be popular with addicts. The majority of production of meth is no longer from backyards or local producers. Mexican gangs have taken over production and distribution. Heroin, which can be smoked or injected, has been seen as a cheaper choice after a change in the formula to oxycontin.
  • Mental illness can be a “co-occurring issue” with drug addiction. Depression can be a big problem with teens who look to drugs to feel better.
  • Some signs to look for in your child are changes in behavior, changes in friends or grades. One panelist suggested being aware of how your child smells.
  • One member of the audience asked why the epidemic is happening in Monroe and Snohomish. Detective Chitwood pointed out that the “epidemic” is all over Snohomish County. The people in Snohomish and Monroe are talking about it. Other panelists pointed out that the whole community needs to be involved (law enforcement, schools, social services, medical, and parents) to reduce drug addiction.
The Sno-Isle Libraries has created a web page,, about this subject as part of their Issues that Matter series. You can find a listing of books on different aspects of drug addiction as well as links to web sites that talk about addiction. Also, on Twitter, you can find the live tweets for this meeting by searching for #snoisleITM.

Monday, August 11, 2014

GRANITE FALLS- Burglaries Get Press Coverage

GRANITE FALLS- Burglaries Get Press Coverage

Recently, the press has covered a series of burglaries and car prowls in the Granite Falls area. Items taken have included personal property, identification cards and credit cards. Two suspects have been arrested in an investigation of identity theft and stolen property.
Police have urged local citizens to not leave valuables in their cars and to call 911 whenever they see any suspicious activity.


SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE– “Partner’s In Crime Prevention” Burglaries

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE– “Partner’s In Crime Prevention” Burglaries

The summer months always seem to have an increase in burglaries in Snohomish County. This issue of the Sheriff’s Office’s crime prevention newsletter “Partner’s In Crime Prevention” profile’s the “typical” burglar and also gives a few tips on how you can prevent a burglary to your home.

To see the issue, go to:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SNOPAC– Smart911Gives a New Capability

In conjunction with National Night Out, SNOPAC, one of two 911 agencies in Snohomish County, has announced a new service called Smart911.

Many times first responders will receive calls and not have much information available about emergencies until they arrive at the scene. Then they have to figure out what is wrong. At best the person calling 911 can give information about the situation to the 911 call taker. But, responders can also encounter only an unconscious person who cannot tell them what is wrong.
The idea of Smart911 is for citizens to voluntarily provide information that might be important to first responders in an emergency. This could include medications, medical conditions such as asthma, heart conditions, mental conditions, or Alzheimer’s/dementia. Information about access to your property, such as gate codes, can also be provided.

With Smart911, you set up an account with a “Safety Profile” that contains the emergency information that you would want to provide to SNOPAC during an emergency. When you call 911, the system recognizes your phone number then displays your emergency information automatically on the call taker’s screen. Smart911 points out that this can be especially helpful in situations when you are unable to communicate or the situation makes it unwise to communicate.
Through Smart911, SNOPAC has the capability to send and receive text messages. Currently, outside of Smart911 texting is not available during 911 calls. Texting is helpful for those who have hearing or speech problems. Also, through Smart911, you can give SNOPAC permission to ping your cell phone. This can be important if you cannot communicate, or if you are not sure exactly where you are. This capability is often limited to a few emergency circumstances that are governed by strict protocols.

The information that you provide is secure. It is maintained in a national database that is not shared except when you call 911.
Note: Smart911 is another private initiative that is intended to help local governments with their information/data needs. A few years ago the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, as well as other local police agencies, signed up for which provides crime data to the public. SNOPAC has a three year, $180,000 ($60,000 per year) contract with Smart911. SNOCOM, the other 911 agency in the county, currently does not have a contract with Smart911.

Smart911, Fox News video:

How Smart911 works:

The Herald: