Sacramento neighborhood hires private security, sees crime drop

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — Sacramento’s Woodlake neighborhood is among a growing number of communities that is adding an extra layer of protection against crime: private security.

“It’s just another set of eyes on the situation,” said Andy Hernandez, a homeowner and member of the Woodlake neighborhood safety committee.

Hernandez helped push Woodlake residents to hire the firm Paladin Security in 2012.

In the past five years, they’ve seen a drastic change.

“We’ve seen a major drop in the everyday petty crimes, and it seems to have reduced the number of car break-ins,” Hernandez said.

Now, more neighborhoods and organizations are following suit.

“We’ve certainly gotten a lot busier,” said Matt Carroll, Paladin’s vice president of operations. “We’re seeing an increase in our call volume of 20 to 30 percent every year over the past five years.”

Paladin now services about 450 customers in the greater Sacramento region.

That includes neighborhoods such as Woodlake, regional transit stations and a growing number of business districts.

“Police have to work for everyone, and we only have to work for the people who are paying us,” Carroll said.

And police said they support the efforts of security officers like Ryan Giarmona to help reduce and identify crime.

“I think it takes a lot of pressure off their shoulders, and they actually like us assisting them and helping them,” said Giarmona, who works with Paladin Security four times a week, serving 12-hour shifts mostly at Regional Transit light rail stations.

Sacramento police sent KCRA the following statement: “We appreciate the presence of private patrols in the city. It is important to remember that private security officers do not have peace officer authority and do not have the training that police officers in California have.”

But for Hernandez and his neighbors, who voluntarily pay about $20 a month per home for private security, it offers peace of mind he can’t put a price on.

“Quite frankly we wanted to be able to help our law enforcement officers any way we could in solving crimes and preventing crimes,” Hernandez said.

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Security officer discovers toxic leak after man drilled holes in tanks of cyanide

“A Wooster man faces criminal charges after he broke into an electroplating company he once owned and drilled holes in tanks of dangerous chemicals, Cleveland police investigators said.

The incident sent one employee to the hospital for exposure to toxic chemicals, and risked a potential environmental disaster, according to a Cleveland police report.

Benjamin Dagley, 50, is charged with breaking and entering in the Aug. 22 incident at Cleveland Plating on East 134th Street in the South Collinwood neighborhood.

Dagley was identified in police reports as a former co-owner of the business, but court records indicate he owned a similar electroplating company at the same location before Cleveland Plating took over, and he still owns the property itself.

Employees called police around 8 p.m. Aug. 22 after a security guard discovered gas escaping in one of the facility’s chemical rooms.

Surveillance footage later revealed Dagley drilled into tanks of sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, yellow chromate, ferrous chloride, and sulfuric acid, according to a current owner, Ed Cochran.

“If you mix the (cyanide and hydrochloric acid), you basically have the cyanide gas of World War I,” Cochran said. “It certainly would produce a toxic vapor that could kill.”

Employees told police that the released chemicals “are severe enough to cause a large scale catastrophe, and Dagley knew what he was doing,” the report says.

Potential cyanide poisoning is the reason why the 27-year-old security guard who found the leaks was taken to University Hospitals, according to Cochran and the report.

Her injuries and current condition were not immediately available, but Cochran believes she has been released from the hospital.

Firefighters and a hazmat specialist went to the building the night of the break-in, and Cleveland police and firefighters also notified the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the report says.

Cochran told cleveland.com that the business hired a hazmat firm to oversee clean-up. Within 36 hours, that process was complete and the Ohio EPA determined all chemicals were contained inside the building, with no exposure to the neighborhood, according to an EPA spokesman.

The police report does not say how Dagley managed to break into the building. Surveillance showed him walking into the property around 6 p.m., drilling holes into the containers, then leaving about 15 minutes later, the report says.

“Thank god we have security guards there 24/7,” Cochran said. “Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been discovered until (the next morning), and it would’ve been late.”

A warrant was issued for Dagley last week, but he hasn’t been arrested, court records show.

Police didn’t outline a possible motive and Cochran declined to share details due to a pending civil case in Wayne County.

Court records there and in Cuyahoga County indicate that Dagley and his companies are locked in a financial dispute over the property, its mortgage, and Cleveland Plating’s lease, among other things.

“He wants us to settle and we won’t pay, that’s why I think he’s done all this,” Cochran said.

Cleveland Plating’s current owners asked a judge for a temporary restraining order against Dagley earlier this year, saying that he entered the building April 8 and put locks on almost all the doors, court records show. The judge denied that request.

About two months later, Dagley was charged with misdemeanor assault after he returned to the property with two other people and broke into the business through a roll door, the reports and court documents say.

A security guard told police that an irate Dagley yelled at him through a crack in an office door, then slammed the door into his knee and punched him in the mouth, the report says.
One of the other men said he rode to the business with Dagley that day to “help him lock the building up,” the report says.

The assault case is still pending in Cleveland Municipal Court, court records show. Dagley’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 7.”

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Private security hired to guard Confederate monument

Security guards were hired this week to watch over the federal monument and cemetery of Confederate dead near Point Lookout State Park. Those buried in the mass grave have been deceased for more than 150 years.

In addition, an online link to a private park commemorating the Confederacy, near the entrance to the park in Scotland, was removed from the St. Mary’s County tourism website this week, upon the request of a citizen, without the county commissioners’ knowing about it.

When the commissioners learned that the online page for the private park was taken down, the board instructed staff to put it back up on late Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it hired the local security firm Spaulding Security and Investigation to guard over the Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery this week.

The VA did not respond by deadline on Thursday to say how long security would be needed at the cemetery, or how much the service is costing.

St. Mary’s County Commissioner John O’Connor (R) said of the need for security at the cemetery, “I think it’s a sad state of affairs that we’re in that we’ve lost all civility to the point where we have to have security over monuments and graveyards, and that we’ve sunk so low that we’re removing Asian sportscasters because his name is Robert Lee,” referring to an on-air personnel change made by ESPN, which reassigned a broadcaster from working an upcoming University of Virginia football game in Charlottesville.

“That’s sad,” O’Connor said.

Joe Anderson, a former St. Mary’s County commissioner and chairman of the board of governors for the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, sent an email to the St. Mary’s County

Department of Economic Development on Aug. 18 to request that its tourism website remove mention of the private Confederate Memorial Park.

“Given the terrible turn of events in our country over the last week, I don’t think anything more need[s] to be said,” Anderson wrote.

Anderson cited a post from Facebook that said, “I know that since the actual ‘Confederate Memorial Park’ is private property, not much can be done to remove it … but who can we talk to for it to be taken off of the St. Mary’s County tourism website?”

The privately maintained Confederate Memorial Park has a statue in the center of it of a Rebel soldier. The park is at the corner of Route 5 and Scotland Beach Road, owned by Confederate

Memorial Park Inc. with a mailing address in Friendswood, Texas. The 2-acre property was purchased in 2003 for $30,000. The park includes flags of the states that seceded from the Union in the
Civil War, and was dedicated in 2008.

Adjacent to that property is a 1-acre site owned by the United States government, with federal and state monuments to those Confederates who died at Point Lookout, which was a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War.

Between 1863 and 1865, more than 50,000 Confederate prisoners passed through Camp Hoffman at Point Lookout. Approximately 4,000 died there, but the federal monument lists the names of 3,382

Confederate soldiers and sailors and 44 civilians.

The site, which is home to the unmarked remains of the Confederate dead, is overseen by Baltimore National Cemetery. The site also is home to a state-erected, 25-foot obelisk to the

Confederate dead. That state monument was dedicated on July 4, 1876, on the edge of Tanner Creek, where the mass grave had been moved to in 1870 because of erosion from the Chesapeake Bay at the original site at Point Lookout.

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A Look at Romanian ‘Hackerville’ Reveals Human Element of Cybercrime

“Editor’s Note: Welcome to my weekly column, Virtual Case Notes, in which I interview industry experts for their take on the latest cybersecurity situation. Each week I will take a look at a new case from the evolving realm of digital crime and digital forensics. For previous editions, please type “Virtual Case Notes” into the search bar at the top of the site.

Cybercrime if often thought of as something that only happens within the generalized, invisible space of the internet. It is seen as virtual rather than physical, and those who commit cybercrime are thought of as anonymous individuals whose activities are all within the confines of the web. Run an image search for “hacker” or “cybercriminal” and you will see plenty of pictures of people with their faces hidden by hoods or masks, sitting alone in a dark room in front of a computer. But what if, instead of a hooded loner, the universal image of cybercrime was that of a group of neighbors in an impoverished part of the world, gathered together at a local cafe?

The latter is a new picture of cybercrime that researchers Jonathan Lusthaus and Federico Varese hope to make more people aware of in their recent paper “Offline and Local: The Hidden Face of Cybercrime.” The co-authors, working on the Human Cybercriminal Project out of the sociology department of the University of Oxford, traveled to Romania in 2014 and 2015 to study the oft-ignored real-world aspect of cybercrime in an area known to be a hub for one specific form of this crime—cyber fraud.

“Hackerville”

The town of Râmnicu Vâlcea, which has a population of around 100,000, has faced some economic setbacks in the last decade, including the loss of a major employer, a chemical plant; in addition, the average monthly salary in Romania as a whole (in 2014) was only €398 compared to €1,489 across the European Union. However, upon arriving in town, Lusthaus and Varese found themselves surrounded by luxury cars, “trendy” eateries, and shopping malls stocked with designer clothes and electronics. Though Râmnicu Vâlcea is poor “on paper,” the town seemed to be thriving, and interviews with Romanian law enforcement agents, prosecutors, cybersecurity professionals, a journalist, a hacker, and a former cybercriminal would soon give the researchers a clue as to why that might be.

“It was rumored that some 1,000 people (in Râmnicu Vâlcea) are involved almost full-time in internet fraud,” Varese told me, explaining why the town sometimes nicknamed “Hackerville” became a key target of their research (although the authors point out, in their paper, that the more accurate term would be “Fraudville,” as scams are focused more on the sale of fake goods than hacking or the spread of malware).

Varese said major findings from their interviews in Râmnicu Vâlcea as well as the Romanian cities of Bucharest and Alexandria were that cybercriminals knew each other and interacted with each other at local meeting spots offline, such as bars and cafes; that they operated in an organized fashion with different people filling different roles; that many in the town were aware of the organized crime but either didn’t say anything or sought to become involved themselves; and that there have been several cases throughout the years of corrupt officials, including police officers, who accepted bribes from the fraudsters and allowed them to perpetuate their schemes without interference.

“These are almost gangs,” Varese said. “They are not the individual, lonely, geeky guy in his bedroom that does the activities, but it’s a more organized operation that involves some people with technical skills and some people who are just basically thugs.”

The paper describes a culture of local complacency, often under threat of violence by a network of seasoned cybercriminals. This picture is far from that of the anonymous, faceless hacker many have come to envision, and instead reveals how internet crime can become embedded in specific populations.

“Most people think of cybercrime as being a global, international sort of liquid problem that could be anywhere and could come at you from anywhere,” Varese said. “In fact, the attacks—the cybercrime attacks or the cyber fraud—really come from very few places disproportionately. So cybercrime is not randomly distributed in the world. It’s located in hubs.”

Cultural and Human Factors

I asked Varese two major questions—why Romania and why cybercrime, as opposed to other forms of profitable crime? He responded that a look at the country’s history reveals why, instead of weapons or drugs, criminals in Romania might turn instead to their computers.

“Romania is a very special place. Mainly because, during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu—that was the communist dictator that ruled Romania from the 60s to the 90s—he emphasized the importance of technical education, and especially IT,” Varese explained. “There was a very good technical basis among people. When the internet arrived, a lot of Romanians built up their own micro-networks. And so it turns out that when the regime fell, Romania turned out to be a country which was very, very well-connected.”

The high level of technical education, combined with a high level of poverty and a high level of corruption—as shown in the paper, which points out that Romania’s score on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index is only 48 out of possible 100—created a perfect storm for a culture of cybercrime to grown, Varese said.

But Romania is not the only place where cybercrime is highly concentrated and where online activities are strongly tied to offline factors. Varese identifies Vietnam in Asia, Nigeria in Africa and Brazil in the Americas as three other cybercrime hubs. Varese and his coauthor also plan to take their future research to Eastern Europe, where “corruption and the technical and economic of legacy of communism” have created “a highly conducive environment for cybercrime,” their paper states.

Varese hopes this sociological research will help authorities recognize and manage the human element of cybercrime that is often ignored in the fight against online threats.”

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Missing Florida woman found after she bottled her scent

“A woman with dementia who went missing in Florida was found by a police dog in a matter of minutes, having bottled her scent in advance.

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said the anonymous woman had used a specialist scent preservation kit.

It can hold a person’s scent for up to seven years.

In a Facebook post police said she stored the scent two-and-a-half years ago, and a picture of the jar showed it was dated January 2015.

Scent preservation kits involve rubbing a pad on a person’s underarm, then sealing it in a sterile jar so police dogs have a reliable scent to smell before looking for a missing person.

Manufacturers say they work better and more quickly than articles of clothing, because they are not contaminated by other people’s smells or smells from the environment.

Dogs have a stronger sense of smell than humans and working police dogs are trained to sniff out drugs, people and in some cases corpses.

Some police forces around the world, including in China and Germany, have held scent samples from criminal suspects and crime scenes to help in their investigations.

But there are concerns over a high failure rate; in 2006 it was found that only a quarter of people indicated by dogs in New South Wales, Australia, turned out to be carrying drugs when they were searched.

In this case, though, the missing person was found and the dog earned a celebratory ice cream.”

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Texas churches allowed to hire in-house security staff

“Security at Texas churches is about to get a big boost. In September, churches will be able to arm members of their own congregation, rather than hire private security firms under SB 2065.

Security at churches has been top of mind after horrific scenes like the 1999 tragedy at Wedgewood Baptist in Fort Worth and more recently in Charleston, South Carolina.

“You can’t just tell everybody bring your guns to church and here we go, it needs to be people who are legally allowed to carry,” said retired Hurst Police Officer and church security expert of Sheepdog Seminars,

Jimmy Meeks. He believes the new law will soon give churches more choices for security.

Under current legislation, in order for churches to have armed security they must hire a private licensed company or officer. The new bill will allow congregations to make up their own security teams with members who are legally allowed to carry a gun on a volunteer basis only, but that person cannot wear a uniform or badge portraying themselves as “security.”

It’s a bill that has been the subject an ongoing discussion in Austin.

“The waters are no longer muddy as of September 1st. They’re more clear now and you just realize.. hey we can protect our own flock without employing an outside service,” said Meeks.

State Representative Matt Rinaldi released a statement to NBC 5 that read in part: “The passage of SB 2065 ensures that churches are empowered to make their own decisions about how they want to implement their security policies without jumping through unnecessary training and licensure hoops.”

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San Antonio Security Officer discovers human trafficking-aids victims

“Police now say that is was a Walmart security guard in a southwest section of the city that made the discovery of human trafficking after a tipster identified a tractor-trailer in the parking lot that was apparently full of migrants, said Joe Arrington, a spokesman for the San Antonio Fire Department.

The tipster, who was not identified, had been in the truck and approached the security guard to ask for water, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus later told reporters.

The security guard found the dead and sick when he searched the back of the truck, Arrington said.

A total of 39 people were inside, the U.S. attorney’s office said Sunday afternoon.

Officials reported earlier that 38 people were found in the trailer, but they said later that they had found an additional person in a wooded area nearby.

“The truck was loaded with people,” Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters.

Eight people were initially found dead in the tractor-trailer, and an additional victim died at a hospital, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told NBC News.

All of the dead are adult men, the U.S. attorney’s office said, and 30 others were being treated at hospitals.

ICE had said earlier that two people died at hospitals, but it later revised the number, citing miscommunication with hospital officials.

A Florida truck driver was in custody Sunday after nine people were found dead in the back of a cramped, overheated 18-wheeler in San Antonio, Texas.

More than a dozen other people — whom authorities described as victims of a “horrific” human smuggling operation — suffered life-threatening injuries.

In a statement, the U.S. attorney’s office for western Texas said the driver, James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla., was in custody pending criminal charges. A complaint will likely be filed Monday morning, the statement said.

Some inside the semi ran into nearby woods, triggering a search by helicopter and on foot, McManus said, adding that police would look for the missing again in the morning.

“We’re looking at a human trafficking crime here this evening,” he said, describing it as a “horrific tragedy.” He added that the Department of Homeland Security was working with local police.
After the victims are treated, they will be investigated by ICE, McManus said.

First responders raced to the scene shortly after 12:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. ET), officials said. Hood said that the people in the truck were “very hot to the touch” and that there were no signs of water inside. The air conditioning was not working, he said.

“Our paramedics and firefighters found that each one of them had heart rates over about 130 beats per minute,” he said. “You’re looking at a lot of heat stroke, a lot of dehydration.”

San Antonio police said in a statement later Sunday that all of the dead were believed to have succumbed to heat exposure and asphyxiation. Official causes of death will be determined by the

Bexar County medical examiner.

Police added that they do not yet know the exact country of origin, destination or demographics of the dead and injured, although Mexico’s consul general, Rayna Torres, confirmed Sunday that

Mexican nationals were among them.

Citing the U.S. law enforcement investigation, Torres said she did not want to provide specifics, but she said that some were minors. Some could not speak, she added, because they are in grave condition.

Police said that the two youngest known victims, both of whom survived, were 15 years old.

Had it not been for the quick response by the security guard there would probably have been many other deaths said police.

The National Weather Service said the temperature in San Antonio hit 101 degrees on Saturday and didn’t dip below 90 degrees until after 10 p.m., according to The Associated Press.

Closed-circuit TV images from before emergency services arrived showed several cars turn up to pick up many of those who had survived the journey inside the truck, McManus said.

The driver and anyone else involved in the incident will face state and federal charges, McManus said.

“This is not an isolated incident,” he said, as he urged anyone who sees anything similar to call 911. “Fortunately, we came across this one. Fortunately, there are people who survived. But this happens all the time.”

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said in a statement Sunday that smuggling networks “have repeatedly shown a reckless disregard for those they smuggle, as last night’s case demonstrates.”

“By any standard, the horrific crime uncovered last night ranks as a stark reminder of why human smuggling networks must be pursued, caught and punished,” he said.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said the deaths were “tragic and avoidable.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that Texas is “working to eradicate” traffickers, while Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, said the political environment was partly to blame.

“You can draw a direct line between the hostile policies and rhetoric against immigrants that are happening nationally, and here in our state, to events like what happened today,” Ryan said.

“You can change laws. You can change policies,” he said. “But you cannot change the fact that people fleeing violence, people seeking to save and protect their families, are going to do whatever they can to flee that danger and find safety.”

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DHS Workers Left Unsecured Laptops and Passwords on Their Desks

Homeland Security Department offices are dropping the ball on information security controls, according to a pair of audits released last week.

Auditors with the firm KPMG walked through offices and cubicles of staff for the DHS chief information officer and chief financial officer after work hours and found unsecured laptops and mobile devices and written down passwords, according to one of the audits.

The inspectors also found unsecured documents marked “for official use only” and documents that contained employees or citizens’ personal information, according to the audit, which was performed during the 2016 fiscal year.

The unsecured information was found in three out of 69 workspaces the auditors visited, KPMG said.

The audit also found password configurations used by those officers that didn’t meet departmentwide standards and a plan for configuring access controls for sensitive data that was still in draft form.

A separate audit released Tuesday for DHS’ main cyber division, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, found deficiencies that “limited NPPD’s ability to ensure that critical financial and operational data were maintained in such a manner to ensure their confidentiality, integrity, and availability.”

NPPD couldn’t produce a complete and accurate list of all contractors that stopped serving the division during the 2016 fiscal year, according to the audit.

The division also didn’t have sufficient controls to monitor when employee and contractor digital accounts were closed or recertified or when a user’s privileges were elevated, the audit found.

The audit also found weaknesses in ways the division scanned its systems for digital vulnerabilities and found NPPD didn’t fully comply with rules concerning database passwords and elevating user privileges.

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Train Nurses to Spot Human Trafficking Victims

Healthcare professionals are in a unique position to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking. Nearly 88 percent of them seek medical treatment during captivity, and of those, 68 percent of them are seen in the emergency department (ED). Unfortunately, many victims slip through the cracks and remain “hidden.” A study released today (June 26, 2017 at 12:01 a.m.) in the Emergency Nurses Association’s Journal of Emergency Nursing aims to help emergency nurses better identify victims of human trafficking. The study details an evidence-based project that shines a spotlight on the importance of formal education, screening and treatment protocols for emergency department personnel to guide identification and rescue victims of human trafficking.

“Interestingly, we found that not only were formal education and treatment methods effective strategies to improve recognition and save human trafficking victims, but they also increased the identification of other forms of abuse such as domestic violence and sexual assault,” said study author Amber Egyud, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at Forbes Hospital, Allegheny Health Network.

A multidisciplinary team implemented the project at a level two trauma center in a southwestern Pennsylvania community hospital ED where no human trafficking victims had ever been identified before. The team taught ED staff a two-pronged identification approach: medical red flags created by a risk assessment tool embedded into the electronic health record and a silent notification process. They also advised on the proper protocol to ensure the successful rescue and safety of the victims.

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Smile! Your face is changing how you move through the airport

After years of using passports and boarding passes to check bags or board a flight, travelers in Boston and Minneapolis are trying something new: facial recognition identification systems.

This week, Delta is launching a pilot program in Minneapolis-St. Paul where some passengers will check their bags automatically through kiosks that use facial recognition software to identify ticketed passengers.

Meanwhile, JetBlue is boarding some flights in Boston with the passenger identities being confirmed by a facial recognition system before they board the plane.

“We see a future where your face is your passport for travel. Where you can show up in an airport and your face checks you in, your face allows you to drop a bag, and your face allows you to go through the TSA checkpoint and ultimately board a flight,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue executive vice president, customer experience.

The goal is an admirable one: move passengers through airports quicker and with less hassle. For the airlines there is the extra benefit of freeing up gate workers and those staffing ticket counters to focus on passengers who need more attention.

“It frees up the personnel that we have, to be able to deal with customers when they really need that human heart to empathize and understand,” said Gareth Joyce, senior vice president of airport customer service at Delta.

How do the new facial recognition systems work?

At Delta’s hub in the Twin Cities, passengers use self-serve kiosks to check in, get a luggage tag and tag their bag. After that, they take it to a self bag check terminal, scan their boarding pass and look into the camera screen to confirm their identity. If everything matches, they put their bag on the carousel and it will head on its way to the plane, while passengers walk to the security checkpoint.

JetBlue’s facial recognition system is used at the gate where passengers board a flight to Aruba.

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