Palo Alto Turns to Cameras to Keep Watchful Eye on Railroad

Palo Alto is turning to technology in hopes of preventing people from attempting to stand in front of or jump in front of trains traveling through the Peninsula city.

The city has installed thermal imaging-equipped video cameras designed to keep an eye out for people standing or hanging around the tracks at four railroad crossings within city limits.

While the video cameras have already been put in place, the city is still conducting rounds of testing before making the cameras fully operational later this month.

Palo Alto has hired a company to watch the camera feeds from an off-site location and call law enforcement if they spot anything unusual. Those monitoring the camera feeds can also speak via a public address system to alert someone on the tracks that help is on the way.

The Peninsula city has been paying security guards to scan the railroad crossings since about 2009 after a number of teenagers committed suicide on the tracks.

Unlike the human eye, the cameras are able to scan for movement roughly 1,000 feet away from where they are located along the tracks. The cameras can also capture movement when its dark, raining or foggy.

“We’re hoping that not only will this provide better monitoring, the ability to see much better down the tracks than the human eye, but also in the long run to provide faster notification to law enforcement and be more cost effective,” Claudia Keith with the city of Palo Alto said.

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8 arrested in retail theft ring ‘Operation Loot and Scoot’

Jacksonville FL May 30 2018

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has successfully arrested eight people in connection with an organized retail theft ring that they believe stole more than $500,000 worth of merchandise.

Following a two-year investigation which involved undercover officers, police arrested Natasha Soukseunchay, Latoya Shurman, Jennifer Upton, Chiquita Moorehead, Brian Harris, Deedra Berry, Dantavia Berry and the man they credit with being the leader of the ring, Antoun “Tony” Arbaji.

Sheriff Mike Williams told the media in a press conference that Arbaji sold upwards of $300,000 dollars of stolen merchandise on websites he maintained.

He would pay people for the stolen items either $10 per item or 20% of the total worth. Sherriff Williams said the suspects would enter stores with a large box and conceal stolen items within it and would walk out only having paid for the item printed on the box or having not paid at all.

“There’s a method that these suspects know what stores do or won’t do and they take advantage of that at the end of the day,” said Williams.

This investigation was difficult and took two years due to the merchandise being sold not only online but also across state lines. The investigation led police as far away as Tallahassee and St. Marys, Georgia and everywhere in between, according to the Sheriff.

When police arrest Arbaji they seized $53,000 in stolen merchandise and $11,000 in cash.

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Oakbrook mall security using license plate readers technology

Oak Brook IL April 24 2018 If you park at Oakbrook Center, your car may be part of a candid camera scenario, as security cars drive up and down aisles in lots and garages, using license plate reading technology to check the plate numbers on vehicles.

The license plate recognition system, which has been used since late 2016, helps Oakbrook Center monitor and enforce that shopping center employees are parking in designated areas and leaving the best parking for guests, explained Marissa Ellenby, senior manager of communications for General Growth Properties, the owner/operator of Oakbrook Center.

“Our research has shown us that parking is a top pain point of our shoppers,” Ellenby stated.

But a senior investigative researcher for an organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world says the use of license plate recognition systems raise privacy questions.

“It’s important that businesses respect their customers,” said Dave Maass of the 28-year-old Electronic Frontier Foundation. “People do care when they find out about this; privacy is a major issue.”

Maass said potential privacy concerns over the type of system being used at Oakbrook Center include whether the system is being checked for cyber security, possible use of a third-party server for collected data, whether any stored photos taken may include more than a license plate, how long data is retained, whether notice of system use is posted and who is authorized to access data, including police.

He said that photos taken of license plates could include bumper stickers.

“Sometimes, a bumper sticker indicates someone’s political views, for example,” he said. “Anyone who sees the vehicle could see a bumper sticker, but if you don’t know for sure who might have access to a photo taken of it with a license plate scanner, that could be an issue.”

The issues Maass raised, including the use of third-party servers, how long data is saved, whether data is used for marketing purposes and if the system is audited, were asked of Ellenby via email, but were not answered.

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Williamsburg police arrest 10 people

Ten people — including eight College of William & Mary students and a professor — were arrested this week on narcotics distribution charges following a monthslong investigation, Williamsburg police said.

Police said the operation, a joint investigation by Williamsburg authorities and the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force, seized LSD, cocaine, psilocybin (mushrooms), opioids, amphetamines, steroids, hashish and marijuana. Roughly $14,000 in cash was also recovered, authorities said.

Williamsburg police Maj. Greg Riley said the drugs were being sold on or around the William & Mary campus.

“We have no indication that these individuals were working together,” Riley said.

The criminal investigation began after authorities were told that there were unreported sexual assaults occurring because of increased drug activity on or around the William & Mary campus, Williamsburg police said.

“We were told the assaults were occurring because of increased drug use,” Riley said.

Police looked into the drug activity, which led to this week’s arrests, he said.

Police identified the professor arrested as Gi Sang Yoon, 40, who is facing two felony marijuana distribution charges and one count of possessing hashish. The other nonstudent charged was Timothy Tyrone Pryor, 27 — an employee at William & Mary who is facing a felony marijuana distribution charge.

Yoon is a visiting biology professor and Pryor works in dining services, said Suzanne Seurattan, a William & Mary spokeswoman.

In addition to facing drug distribution charges, the eight students are facing charges of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Police identified the students charged as Alexander Patrick Foley, 20; Biloliddin Tulamirza, 18; Daniel Jacob McBride, 20; Devin Moore, 20; Jacob Selmonosky, 18; Keegan Paugh, 22; Nicolas George Manuel, 22; and Shannon Cannaday, 20.

Riley could not provide where the students lived before attending the college. Seurattan said William & Mary has the following mailing addresses on file for the students: Foley, Bel Air, Md.; Tulamirza, Falls Church; McBride, Williamsburg; Moore, Springfield; Selmonosky, Falls Church; Paugh, Rapid City, S.D.; Manuel, Arlington; and Cannaday, Leesburg.

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Brockton men ran organized retail crime ring

BROCKTON MA March 8 2018 – They double-dipped, switched tags and stuffed boxes, police say, on their way to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen merchandise from dozens of stores over the last year.

Police say two Brockton men operated an organized retail crime enterprise in which they stole items from home improvements stores on more than 80 occasions to re-sell the merchandise at reduced prices online.

An investigation that began with the Bellingham and Weymouth police departments last fall resulted in the arrests of 46-year-old Shawn Monteiro and 49-year-old Paul Licciardi in Brockton on Tuesday.

Brockton police detectives assisted Bellingham police in executing search warrants at two homes — 78 Orchard Ave. and 712 North Quincy St. — and on three vehicles just after 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

Bellingham police Officer Amy Kirby and Weymouth police Officer Stephen Demorat previously began separate larceny investigations that led to the same “organized retail theft ring,” said Bellingham police Detective Stephen Daigle.

The investigation, which also included police in Blackstone, Hopedale and Medway, resulted in police identifying Licciardi and two others “as being responsible for committing regular thefts from home improvement retailers,” Daigle said.

The men, including two whose identities weren’t immediately released, were supplying the merchandise to Monteiro for resale, he said.

“Monteiro then arranged for the sales of the stolen goods through secondhand sale applications and websites,” Daigle, who applied for the arrest and search warrants, said.

The men are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items, including expensive power tools, generators, portable vacuums, and various Dewalt products, from The Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement locations throughout the state, including locally in Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Plymouth, Quincy, Rockland, Taunton and Wareham.

Police say Licciardi, who was the one sent to stores to steal items, used three different methods – double dipping, tag switching and box stuffing, according to a report filed in Milford District Court.

Licciardi would often purchase an expensive item, but set up two more carts with the same item near exits, the report states. After purchasing one of the items, he would re-enter the store with his receipt to make it look like he was picking up an item he had already paid for.

“In every instance where Mr. Licciardi made an apparent legitimate purchase with his card, he followed up the transaction by stealing at least one, but often two or more, of the same item that he had just purchased,” Daigle wrote in the arrest report. “Mr. Licciardi would immediately come back into the store and return the single item that he had paid for.”

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Child Sexual Exploitation Ring Collaborative

In late 2015 through early 2016, vulnerable girls as young as 14 and 16 were being exploited as part of a sex trafficking ring run by a group of conspirators in Ohio and Indiana.

But thanks to a joint law enforcement effort conducted by the FBI-led Toledo Child Exploitation Task Force, the ringleader of the conspiracy as well as the other six participants were eventually brought to justice and sentenced to lengthy federal prison terms.

The case started in December 2015, when the Lima (Ohio) Police Department began investigating allegations of human trafficking and forced prostitution involving a juvenile victim. One of the Lima officers who originally interviewed the victim was also a member of the Child Exploitation Task Force. That officer—based on his previous task force experiences—understood that the interstate aspects of the case made it a good candidate for federal jurisdiction, which often results in enhanced investigative resources and stronger criminal justice penalties.

So the case was referred to the task force—specifically to Special Agent Devon Lossick, the task force coordinator who works out of the FBI Cleveland Division’s Toledo Resident Agency.

According to Lossick, Lima resident Lorenzo Young was the leader of the group and was assisted, in varying degrees, by his longtime friend Aundre Davis, as well as by his girlfriend, mother, and three acquaintances.

“Members of the conspiracy would go after vulnerable and trusting young girls—usually runaways and others estranged from their families—by promising them money and then coaxing them into posing for sexually explicit photos,” Lossick explained. The photos would be posted to the adult entertainment sections of a classified ads website; when interested customers reached out, the girls would be transported to apartments in Lima or to motel rooms in nearby Fort Wayne across the Indiana state line.

“And the financial proceeds of the transactions would go straight into the pockets of Young and his co-conspirators,” said Lossick.

Once the task force was on the case, investigators began to question some of the victims, gathered motel records and receipts, reviewed video surveillance, and conducted physical surveillance and court-authorized electronic surveillance on the suspects.

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Pennsylvania men ran pet supply business by stealing inventory

Richmond VA March 3 2018 The first heist happened in Colonial Heights, near Petersburg, according to court documents.

From there, the seven-person crew struck stores in North Chesterfield, Midlothian, Richmond and Mechanicsville before heading east toward Hampton Roads.

By the end of the day, they’d hit at least nine businesses.

Their target: pet supplies.

Joseph Heim Jr., 42, of Harrisburg, Pa., and Timothy B. Erb Jr., 24, of Wormleysburg, Pa., were indicted last week in connection with a shoplifting ring that targeted PetSmart locations across Virginia and North Carolina. They were arrested May 6, 2016, in Suffolk.

In all, the conspiracy netted at least $38,000 worth of pet supplies and possibly more than $100,000, according to court documents.

“This is very, very profitable,” said Robert Moraca, a vice president with the National Retail Federation. He referred to it as “organized retail crime,” and said it, along with shoplifting in general, is a growing problem. He said the industry now views it as more serious to their profits than internal theft, administrative errors and vendor fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Stoker declined to comment on the indictment, which charges the men with conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen property.

Federal court records do not list attorneys for Heim and Erb, who have been incarcerated for almost two years on state charges.

Heim entered into a plea agreement with state prosecutors and was sentenced last year to three years in state prison. Suffolk prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against Erb in light of the federal case.

According to the indictment, Heim and Erb were running a pet supply business that got its inventory by stealing from PetSmarts.

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Murder charge filed after nurses caught laughing at WWII vet

Two Georgia nurses and an aide have been indicted in the death of an elderly World War II veteran after they were caught on camera laughing as the man gasped for air and pleaded for help.

Authorities launched a criminal investigation in November after details and video were obtained by WXIA. The information was originally included as part of a lawsuit filed by the family of James Dempsey against Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center.

The video, which was taken February 27, 2014, showed Dempsey gasping for air and calling for help more than six times before losing consciousness.

After finding Dempsey unresponsive at 5:28 a.m., nurses waited nearly an hour to call 911 at 6:25 a.m.

During that hour, video shows nurses failing to help administer aid to Dempsey and laughing as they struggled to get his oxygen machine to work, the outlet reports.

Nursing supervisor Wanda Nuckles testified at a deposition that when she discovered Dempsey was not breathing she rushed to his room, took over CPR and kept going until the paramedics arrived.

Nuckles was then confronted with the hidden camera video that shows she did nothing when she first arrived at Dempsey’s room.

“Sir, that was an honest mistake,” Nuckles said in the deposition obtained by WXIA, “I was just basing everything on what I normally do.”

When asked why she was laughing about the oxygen machine not working, she told the family’s attorney she did not remember that.

The nursing home tried to stop WXIA from getting and releasing the videos but a DeKalb County judge refused to seal the footage

After WXIA went public, Brookhaven Police launched an investigation, which led to a grand jury handing down indictments Wednesday against two nurses and an aide, the outlet reports.

Loyce Pickquet Agyeman is charged with felony murder and neglect to an elder person.

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Why Washington DC Police Are Cracking Down on Cannabis ‘Gifting’

Washington DC Feb 3 2018 For nearly seven hours on a muggy Saturday last August, hundreds of people paid $10 apiece to enter Uneeda Nichols’ Southeast D.C. home, where 10 vendors had set up inside with flowers, concentrates, ready-to-smoke bongs and more. Nichols says she wasn’t aware her address was circulating on social media, printed on a flyer advertising $5 “gas mask” and bong hits and “complimentary strain sampling”–but Metropolitan Police were.

Metro Police bought tickets, bought cannabis, then brought the hammer down.

“They stayed outside, they watched all the vendors bring their stuff in, they bought tickets at the side of the house, and they came,” Nichols said, referring to undercover officers who surveilled her home for six hours before entering with nearly $100 apiece to purchase marijuana.

Minutes after they left, police raided the house, confiscating $22,808 in cash, nearly eight pounds of marijuana and more than 34 pounds of edibles, along with Nichols’ grow of 43 plants, according to an arrest report. (Nichols says only 10 of them were harvest-ready, and all of them were for “educational” or personal use.) She was charged with marijuana cultivation, distribution and possession; seven others were hit with distribution and possession charges.

“They took everything,” Nichols, a medicinal patient in the District.

In the last few months, sources tell Leafly local authorities have raided a growing number of cannabis events at private homes and bars and restaurants around the city. On Jan. 20, cops arrested 22 people at XO Lounge downtown, seizing 17 pounds of flower, 10 pounds of edibles and two quarts of oils.

‘I chuckle when I think about people believing that the law can be so easily gotten around. Clearly it cannot.’

One week earlier, they busted an event at Vita Lounge in Shaw, arresting one person and seizing more than three pounds of cannabis, along with edibles, oils and $1,181 in cash, an arrest report confirmed. And on Dec. 22, 2017, police shut down an event at The Elroy on H Street, taking five containers with an unspecified amount of flower, the department confirmed.

In 2014, D.C. residents passed the Initiative 71 ballot measure, legalizing home grow of up to six plants, possession of up to two ounces and gifting of up to an ounce of marijuana. Congress blocked the city from spending any money to regulate sales of the plant, but allowed the ballot measure to become law. Days after it took effect, D.C. lawmakers enacted an amendment banning so-called cannabis clubs, prohibiting consumption at bars, restaurants and other public spaces.

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TSA confiscated nearly 11 guns a day at airports in 2017

Airport security screeners found nearly 4,000 guns in passengers’ carry-on bags last year, an average of nearly 11 guns a day.

The total marked a 16% increase from 2016, according the Transportation Security Administration’s Year in Review Report. The majority of those guns — 84% — were loaded at the time.

The amount of firearms discovered at airport checkpoints has consistently climbed in the last decade, the total more than quadrupling since 2007, according to the report.

Guns were discovered at 239 airports nationwide, with Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport taking the top spot for most firearms seized. A total of 245 guns were recovered at the Georgia airport, 222 of them loaded.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston round out the top three, with 211 and 142 guns seized at each location, respectively.

Federal law allows for passengers to transport unloaded guns in a locked, hard-sided container. It must be declared, and the gun cannot be packed in a carry-on.

In addition to firearms, the TSA in 2017 recovered “thousands upon thousands” of sharp items in carry-on bags as well as other hazardous items — including live grenades and large quantities of gun powder.

While properly packed ammunition is allowed in checked bags, gun powder is prohibited altogether.

Officers also recovered scores of “inert items,” including a replica suicide vest, a realistic looking land mine and dozens of fake grenades and explosive devices.

“When being viewed on the X-ray monitor, we don’t know if these are real or inert until TSA explosive experts are called to the scene,” the TSA said in a release. “Inert grenades can lead to closed terminals and checkpoints, which can often result in costly canceled or delayed flights.”

TSA agents urged travelers to double-check their belongings as many commuters claim they’ve only brought along the prohibited items by mistake.

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