Monday, June 29, 2015

TRAIL HEADS- Protect Your Car from Car Prowls and Car Theft

With the nice weather upon us, many people will head out to the mountains to take in nature on our hiking trails. When you park your vehicle remember to secure it from car prowlers and car thieves.
There is nothing worse than to come back from a great day on the trail to find your car or truck broken into, your stuff stolen, or to find your vehicle gone.

The most important thing to remember when you park your car is to lock it and do not have anything visible stored in it. If car prowlers see something, and it seems like that can be anything, they will break in and take it. If you do need to leave something in your car, store it in the trunk before you arrive. That way, if a car prowler is lurking at the parking lot, he (or she) will not see you storing your possessions in your car.

Also, take steps to prevent your car or truck from being stolen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau ranks the Puget Sound Region eighth in the nation for car thefts in 2014. The basic steps that you can take to prevent your car from being stolen include locking your car and taking your keys with you, and keeping your windows closed. For other ideas on car theft prevention take a look at the following link:




Saturday, June 27, 2015

HOT DRY WEATHER- Defensible Space

With the early hot weather that we have been experiencing, we all need to be more aware of fire dangers around our homes. This is especially true for homeowners who live on large parcels that have grass and/or native trees and shrubs or have native plants adjacent to their homes on adjacent parcels.  State and local governmental officials have been steadily warning about the danger of wildfires throughout the state. The danger of wildfires may be especially acute in the northern and eastern parts of Snohomish County. But, many developments, throughout the county, have walking trails and parks with native trees and shrubs. Homeowners adjacent to these areas should consider evaluating their properties to ensure that they have defensible space to defend against wildfire.

According to a publication by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, "Living with Fire, A Guide for the Homeowner,"

            "Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and to provide an opportunity for firefighters to effectively defend the house. Sometimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner's properly maintained backyard."
When evaluating the risk of wildfire, firefighting professionals look at three components:

            1. Weather- Hot temperatures can lead to dry plants easily catching fire and wind can spread the fire quickly over a large area.

            2. Topography- Steep slopes spreads fires more quickly than flat land.

            3. Fuel- In the case of wildfires, fuel is living vegetation (trees, shrubs, grass, wildflowers) and dead plant material (dead trees, dried grass, fallen branches, pine needles, etc.). Houses can also add fuel with the materials such as untreated wood shakes and shingles.

The component that can be controlled the easiest is the fuel around the house.

The aim of defensible space is to change the vegetation around the home by:

            • Increasing the moisture content of plants.

            • Decreasing the amount of flammable vegetation.

            • Shortening plant height.

            • Altering the arrangement of plants.

In order to do this, firefighting professionals rely on the three R's:

            1. Removal- Taking away trees and shrubs that are dead or are most volatile in a fire such as junipers.

            2. Reduction- Removing dead wood from trees and shrubs, low tree branches, and mowing dead grass.

            3. Replacement- Replacing flammable plants for plants that are not as flammable.

30 foot and 100 foot zones. Create two zones where you clear flammable material.

Zone 1- This zone is 30 feet from your house. In it you only have small amounts of flammable vegetation, no dead vegetation or flammable debris such as twigs, branches, dried grass.  Plants in this zone are well maintained and irrigated. Also, be sure that your roof does not have dry debris such as needles or branches. Any tree branches near your house should be at least 10 feet away from your chimney.

Zone 2- This zone is between 30 and 100 feet from your house. Where you can thin trees so that they are at least 10 feet apart on flat land. Between a 20-40% slope, trees should be 20 feet apart.  If there is a 40% or steeper slope, thin trees to at least 30 feet apart. Shrubs should be spaced double the size of the shrub on flat land, 4 times the size on 20-40% slopes  and 6 times the size on 40% or greater slopes. For example, on flat land if shrubbery is 6 feet in diameter, keep them 12 feet apart.

Ladder effect. Fire tends to climb like up a ladder. So if shrubs that are next to trees catch fire, the fire will jump to the trees.  Firefighters recommend that there be a vertical separation of three times the height of shrubs to the lower branches of adjacent trees.  For example, if shrubbery next to trees is 3 feet tall, prune away the branches of the trees to 9 feet high.

Comment: Raising concerns about wildfire danger is highly unusual. Normally, we have wet Junes until July 4. Summer weather starts on July 5 and only lasts until the end of September. But, last year we saw a dry June, followed by a hot and dry June this year. Long range forecasts apparently say that this summer will continue to be hot and dry. At least one local fire official has said that forecasts predict another hot and dry summer for 2016 with relief taking as long a 2017 to arrive.

Our forest land on the west slopes of the Cascades have traditionally been moist enough to allow for lush forests and undergrowth. With this long term dry spell, homeowners and communities need to assess whether or not they need to re-adjust their landscaping to protect their homes. Some communities may have little that they can or need to do. Others may need to clean away flammable material to ensure that buildings are protected. If you have any questions about fire safety around your home, contact your local fire district.

Department of Natural Resources:






Thursday, June 25, 2015

JULY 4- Hot Dry Weather Cause Concern

We are in the second June in a row that has been warmer and dryer than normal. In various parts of the state, firefighters are already fighting fires at a level expected in August or September.

The Mays Pond Neighborhood Watch has warned its members about dry conditions. The recent story about possible fireworks igniting brush adjacent to some homes in Federal Way demonstrates the danger that homeowners may be in over July 4.


The Neighborhood Watch recommends that neighbors who have a backyard that borders a field cut back dry vegetation on the other side of their fence or property line. Also, after using your mower or weed Wacker, water down the area to suppress any sparks.

They also recommend having water available, hoses or buckets, and a fire extinguisher which are effective in suppressing small fires.

Of course, call 911 if you have a fire on your property or on any neighboring property.

How to use a fire extinguisher:


Finally, they recommend that if you are going to be away for the Fourth, that you have a trusted neighbor watch your home for fire due to the dry conditions.

National Weather Service Issues Special Weather Statement. Snohomish County has noted that the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Special Weather Statement for high temperatures and increasing fire danger starting on Friday through early next week. The NWS says that highs will range in the upper 80’s and low 90’s in daytime and lows will range in the lower 60’s to the upper 50’s. NWS also says that there is a chance of thunderstorms over the weekend with little accompanying rain which could spark wildfires.

The County reminds everyone that the State and the County have both imposed burn bans due to the dry conditions. And it points out that the NWS Long-Range Outlook calls for warmer and drier conditions throughout the summer.

The County recommends that:

  • You drink plenty of water.
  • Exercise caution when you are using bodies of water for recreation.
  • Do not leave children or pets in your vehicles.
  • Keep an eye out for burglars who would take advantage of open windows.
  • Seek places where you can be cool or that offer air conditioning such as malls, shopping centers and movie theaters.

Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management:




Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Are you moving to a new home? This is a busy time, when you are packing, notifying people about your new address and unpacking. Security might be the last thing on your mind. But once you arrive at your new home change the locks. You do not know how many copies of the keys are in other people’s possession. Also, if the new house has a security system that you are taking over, be sure to change its passcodes.

Once you are moved in, take some time to survey your new home for security. You can use this checklist to help you:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:


Locks are an important part of securing your home. They do not have to be expensive. The most important thing to remember is to use your locks. If you find that you need to replace your locks in your house, a reputable locksmith can advise you. The following handout gives some considerations about the locks that you should use:

National Crime Prevention Council:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: Encouraging Camaraderie Between Deputies and Communities

National Night Out (NNO), the national event intended to encourage cooperation between local police agencies and communities to prevent crime, will be held on August 4th this year.

The Sheriff’s Office is offering to help you spread the word about your NNO event. Go to to register your event. If you would like a deputy to attend, please complete your registration form by July 21st. If August 4th won’t work for your group, you can register your event on a date of your choosing.

The Sheriff’s Office and its contract partners will also be hosting several events throughout the county on August 4th. It looks forward to your cookout, block party or neighborhood event as part of the festivities.


IRS HACKERS- They May Be Coming for More of Your Information

The Identity Theft Resource Center has recently issued a warning that the IRS computer breach by hackers who accessed the tax returns of about 100,000 citizens may bring additional targeting of citizens in the future. Apparently, the hackers had enough information about the individuals to log into their tax accounts.

For those whose tax returns were accessed, they may be victimized by thieves stealing future tax refunds.

There is also a greater likelihood that those 100,000 citizens will be contacted by scammers posing as IRS agents claiming that the victim owes more taxes, that their tax returns were invalid or that they need to update their information with the IRS.

The defenses that you may have heard about become more important now:

·         Monitor your credit with the three credit monitoring services.

·         Check your bank account frequently.

·         Remember, the IRS will not send you an email or call you, it will send any communication with you via the US Post Office. Hang up on anyone who calls you claiming to be from the IRS. Delete any email claiming to be from the IRS and do not click on any links or attachments that might be with it.

The Identity Theft Resource Center:


The following article talks about steps that the IRS says it is taking to stem the problem of ID theft, hacking of its computers and fraudulent tax filing:




Monday, June 15, 2015

BURGLARY PREVENTION- Don’t Be a Summer Burglary Victim

Summer, with the longer days, more people on vacation, and windows open for ventilation is prime time for burglaries. Burglaries are 11% more likely to occur in the summer than in the winter. Most burglaries happen during the day between 10am and 3pm. Here are some things you can do to prevent burglary to your home:

  • Install lights by all exterior doors, use lights at night, install outside light fixtures where bulbs are hard to reach. Lights, especially those covering where you park your cars, if you park them outside, helps prevent car prowls. Having your lights on timers gives the impression that you are around, even when you are away on a trip.
  • Trim shrubs back from doors and windows. Don’t give burglars places to hide.
  • Close the garage door and cover windows so no one can see inside.
  • Hide the garage door opener from open view in your car.
  • Always lock your doors and windows.
  • Use dead bolt door locks on exterior doors and double cylinder dead bolt locks if glass is within 3’ of the lock.
  • Add auxiliary track-type locks, removable drop bars, wooden dowels, or pinning devices to windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Upgrade locks to defeat bump keying. Bump keying is a technique to pick a lock by using a specially designed blank key for specific locks. This technique has been recently recognized as vulnerability in modern locks.
  • Trim tree branches 7’ off the ground, prune shrubs to under 3’ from the ground.
  • While on vacation hire a house sitter, ask neighbors to help with your trash bins and newspaper, park a neighbor’s car in your driveway, use timers on indoor lights to give the impression you are home.
For more information about burglary prevention go to:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

CRIME PREVENTION- Witnessing a Crime

If you witness a crime, it can be a fast, traumatic and exciting experience. Often you only have seconds to take in what happened and see who did what. And, you do not have instant replay.

Your description can be important to finding a suspect. But often eye witness accounts are inaccurate because we are concentrating on our cell phone, reading a book, thinking about our job, etc. and not paying attention to what is going on around us. As you walk around in your neighborhood, in town or at the mall, get in the habit of looking around you.

In the case that you witness a crime, focus on one or two items of a person such as their sex, height, weight, race, physical impairments, or approximate age. Often descriptions of shoes are good because even if a suspect changes their clothes they may not change their shoes.

Vehicle descriptions are always important to finding suspects. Try to concentrate on the license number to report to 911. Even a partial plate number can help deputies. Make and model of a vehicle as well as whether it is a sedan, two door, four door, truck, SUV, and its color are also helpful.

Report what you see to 911 immediately. You will forget what you saw as time goes by. It’s a good idea to keep a small notebook to write down what you saw. You can also use your notebook for your to do's, and notes for your everyday tasks.

The video below shows how hard it can be to give a good description and some hints on how to be an effective witness.

KCPQ 13:



Saturday, June 6, 2015

LAKE STEVENS- Police Looking for Two Car Prowlers/Burglars

The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit is looking for Robert “Robby” Lee Gilleland and Shannon William Fincher for car prowls and burglary.

Both were seen taking a purse from a car at the Lake Stevens dog park on May 8, 2015. Later in the day, they burglarized the car owner’s storage unit. The unit location and passcode was in the purse.

On May 9, they burglarized the Lake Stevens Ace Hardware.

The stolen goods were sold on

Gilleland is 9” tall, weighs 185lbs and has convictions for Theft in the First Degree and Forgery. Fincher is 5”11” tall, weighs 280lbs and has been convicted for Vehicle Prowling in the first degree. Both are 38 years old. They have been associated with a tan Ford F-150 crew cab.

If you know where to find either of them, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Washington’s Most Wanted:

Friday, June 5, 2015

SILVER FIRS- Sheriff’s Office Warns of Attempted Luring

Today, the Sheriff’s Office warned the public of an attempted luring at the intersection of Puget Park Dr. and Silver Firs Dr. around 6pm on Wednesday, June 3.

An “elderly” male with gray hair told a 13 year old boy to “Get into my truck.” The boy ran in the opposite direction and returned home safely, according to the Sheriff’s Office Press Release. The man drove a gold pick-up truck.

If you have any information about this incident please call 911 and ask to talk to a deputy. You can also send tips to:

The Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (425) 388-3845.
Or going to the Sheriff’s Office web page at:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:




This morning, The Sheriff’s Office posted these hints to help recover your bicycle if it becomes lost or stolen:

“With all the warm, sunny weather, lots of folks are out and about enjoying beautiful Snohomish County on bicycles. And bikes are easy to steal. Recovered stolen bikes, as well as those that are "lost" (left behind on buses or at bike racks) end up in our Evidence Unit. At any one time, we have over 100 bikes, but very rarely can we return them to the lawful owner. This is usually because the bike was either never reported stolen in the first place or the owner couldn't provide the serial number to police when making the report.

Here is an easy way to help us help you recover your bike if it's stolen:

1. Write down the make, model and serial number of your bike (most bike manufacturer websites explain how to find the number).

 2. Take a photo of your bike and store it with the other information where you keep other important documents (e.g. your vehicle title).

 3. If your bike is stolen, ask the police officer taking your report to enter this information into NCIC.

We don't want your bike to join our collection!

(In case you were wondering, unclaimed bikes are either auctioned off or given to charity. We sent 230 unclaimed bikes to charity in 2014.)”


SCAM UPDATE- New Ways to Take Your Money

We have had an explosion of reporting on scams over the last year or so. Scammers continuously find new ways to apply their techniques all geared to take money from you.

The techniques are basic,

  • Get people to act without thinking either by offering a deal too good to be true or scaring them with immediate dire consequences for them or a loved one.
  • Require payment by wire or prepaid gift card which cannot be traced.
  • Claim to be from a legitimate business or government entity.
Here are some of the latest twists that scammers have deployed:

  • Final Expenses Mailer. Scammers send emails or postcards to the elderly claiming that if they pay a one-time administration fee they can get a $15,000 policy that will pay for their burial. If you pay there is no policy, the scammer has your money and your personal information to sell to other ID thieves.
  • Genealogy Search Scam. While there are legitimate fee-based genealogy search sites, some have been set up by scammers that will ask for enough personal information that they can steal your identity. When you are looking for genealogy help online, be sure to that you are working with a reputable organization.
  • American Red Cross Scam. For any natural disaster or catastrophe scammers will pretend to be from the American Red Cross or other relief organizations to take your money. During the Oso landslide and the MPHS tragedy scammers flooded email inboxes and phone lines claiming to be asking for money to help the victims.  They play on your natural motivation to help. They want you to act before thinking. When you want to donate for a natural disaster be sure to verify that you are donating to a legitimate relief organization.
Identity Theft Resource Center:


For more information about scams that you might encounter go to:

Time Inc. Network:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

BURGLARY PREVENTION- Security Does Not Have to be Expensive

Installing a security system does not have to be an expensive proposition. This Q13 video that aired in May gives some ideas on what you can do with off the shelf equipment from your local hardware store:

For more information on burglary information, take a look at this recent issue of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office crime prevention newsletter which focused on burglary prevention:



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BOTHELL- Package Theft

Last week the local press talked about a package theft in the Bothell area. The homeowner’s home video recorded a white mini-van drive up to the house. A female with brown hair with a scarf around it and wearing a long sleeve blue top, dark blue pants and white and black shoes walked up to the front door and took a package from the front porch.

If you know anything about this theft call 911 or the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (425) 388-3845.

 During the holidays, local police often emphasize the importance of preventing package theft. However, with the rise of online shopping, UPS and Federal Express deliver greater quantities of merchandise all year around. This means that the potential to have a package stolen at your door step is high throughout the year.

The usual measures to protect your incoming packages include:

·         Have them delivered to your work address or to a neighbor’s address.

·         Have a neighbor pick it up as soon as it is delivered.

·         Send it to a UPS or FedEx Office location.

·         Request a signature on delivery. This means that whoever accepts the package signs for it ensuring that the driver hands it to someone at the delivery destination. If no one is available to sign for it, the driver will try to deliver it on another day.

·         Instruct the delivery service to leave the package someplace that is out of sight of the street, such as the back door.

·         Encourage your neighbors who stay at home to be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles (for example following delivery trucks) and report them to 911 right away.


One other option that UPS offers is to enter your garage code as part of your profile in their free My Choice service. When the driver is 10 feet from your house, he/she is given your code to open the garage door. The driver can place the package in your garage and then close the door. The code disappears from the driver’s handheld when he/she is beyond 10 feet from your house.  



The idea is that the UPS driver can secure your package in your garage where no one can see it or get to it. Of course your garage door will need an associated key pad. And you will need to be comfortable with the security of UPS’s computer servers. However, this is an attempt to provide improved security for delivered packages.

Comment: While not perfect, UPS’s initiative does show ingenuity at addressing security for delivered packages. None of the recommendations that police agencies give are perfect. They may be easy to get around by thieves or they may add inconvenience for the recipient. Delivery companies need to continue to work on techniques that ensure secure delivery. Consumers need to be vigilant in protecting their delivered packages. This is a problem that may not be solved in a short time, but with the foreseeable continuation of package delivery to homeowners it remains worthy of attention from companies, government and the public.








Monday, June 1, 2015

BURGLARY PREVENTION- What to do When a Burglar Knocks

Most burglars want to enter your home when no one is around. They do not want to run the risk of getting caught or maybe more to the point of getting beat up or shot. A few years ago, there were three or four incidents in Snohomish County when homeowners shot burglars.

More important, as a homeowner, you do not want to be in your house if a burglar comes to the door. But what do you do if you see a potential burglar at your door?

If someone comes to your door unexpectedly they could have a legitimate purpose or they could be knocking to see if someone answers before they kick in the door or go around to the back and break a window or knock down a door. This is a well-known technique that is talked about by police and neighborhood watches. It is easy to become paranoid, but there are some practical things that you can do to protect yourself.

If you hear an unexpected knock or your door bell, keep your personal safety in mind. Go to the door and look through your peep hole or a side window to see who is there. The door acts as a physical block between you and whoever is on the other side. Police have long recommended installing peep holes for front doors. It gives you a chance to see who is on the other side and make a quick assessment whether to open the door or not. If you recognize the person or you feel comfortable with who is at the door you can open it. If not you can talk with them through the door and make it clear that they should leave.

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to let a stranger know that you are in the house. Some people do not make a noise when they hear a knock at the door. There might be some logic into letting burglars know that you are present, however. Most burglars avoid risk and having a homeowner present presents a risk of being caught. Also, in the recent video published by the Columbus Police Department (, at least one of the convicted burglars recommended that you make noise if someone knocks at your door.

Also, Smart911 has published a story of two teenagers who did not respond to a knock at the door when a suspect burglarized their home. Fortunately, the teens hid in a bathroom and were not hurt. Based on this example, Smart 911 recommends at least making some sort of noise, such as pretending to talk to someone on the telephone, turning on a TV, radio, or stereo to alert the burglar that someone is in the house. This way, you or your child does not have to interact directly with whoever is outside.

Some other things to think about are:

  • When you go to the door, take your cell phone or mobile phone with you. That way you can call 911 right away if you need to, or you can pretend to be talking on the phone.
  • If you have a camera system, you can place the monitor in a convenient place and check who is at the door before answering it. Many systems allow you to view cameras on your PC, laptop, tablet and even your smartphone.
  • If someone has been at your door that seems suspicious to you, call 911 right away with a description. Deputies can be on the lookout for them.
  • If you are away from your house for an extended period, such as on a vacation, consider having a radio on and/or putting your lights on a timer to make potential burglars think that someone is in the house.
  • If you have an alarm system, post a sign. Also, posting signs such as “No Trespassing” or “No Soliciting” often works to discourage burglars.
Smart 911: