A popular way for burglars to gain entry to a house is to kick in a door. The door and/or the door frame split apart after a few kicks. And the door can swing wide open.
Let's shift gears and go to that GermanWings Airbus that crashed into the side of a mountain. According to reports, the pilot couldn't regain entrance even after beating on the door with an ax. It's hard to come up with any good news from that story, but we have to acknowledge that that door was one tough momma.
I want one. Oh, and I guess I'd better get the frame to go with it.
According to the story, several Midland County Sheriff's Office deputies went to Dan Higgins house to question and/or arrest him on October 9, 2014. And during the course of events, Mr. Higgins shot one of the deputies who died shortly thereafter. There was about a three and a half hour standoff before Higgins surrendered peacefully.
Then there was the published mugshot following his arrest. If he surrendered peacefully, how did he get those abrasion on his face?
Today's morning paper provides an answer. The Midland Reporter-Telegram eventually obtained results from an open records request and reported about the contents at Report: Gun that killed Naylor was reported stolen.
Here's an excerpt in which Higgins addressed the treatment he received from the arresting deputies:
"I understand that y'all beating the (expletive) out of me. I did it. I did it," he said. "I didn't fight back, but I get it; I understand that. But if that is the way it's going to be for the rest of the time, can we do it right here, can y'all shoot me up?"
At that point he was probably regretting having passed up the suicide-by-cop option.
Most citizens would want to see standoffs end peacefully rather than in shootouts. And it would seem that most law enforcement officers should want that too. But to telegraph to potential standoff subjects, as they did here, that if the person surrenders they will beat the expletive out of that person, then that doesn't seem like a message that will get positive results.
Burglars don't like bad weather. I've got no stats to back that up, but it makes sense. Burglars typically don't break into occupied houses in Texas, because they know a severe penalty could occur rather suddenly. So at a time when the streets are icy, schools are closed, and people stay home, the burglary rate likely goes down.
That's something our local newspaper should investigate when they're not preoccupied with comparing the number of museums with the number of licensed firearms dealers.
The New Hampshire Union Leader had the time to explore the point. Here's an excerpt:
Looking at crime statistics for January and February 2015 - when the heaviest snow fell this winter - compared to the same time frame in 2014, robberies in the Queen City have dropped 10 percent. Homicides have dropped 100 percent. Reports of larceny are down 19 percent. In total, property crimes were down 11 percent.
But consistent with Ranson's report, incidents of auto theft in Manchester rose 65 percent from 17 in 2014 to 28 in 2015. O'Keefe believes the increase could be tied to more people leaving their cars running to warm up in the extreme cold, while they wait indoors, and when they come out the vehicles are gone.
But wouldn't you know? The crime rate is going to rise, because Global Warming!
The other day a couple of hoods robbed a Citibank in Midland, Texas, the old fashioned way and made off with a few thousand dollars. One suspected culprit was apprehended almost immediately, thus telegraphing how foolhardy a career choice robbing bank is. The retirement plan isn't so great.
But we're in a new era now where everything is connected to the internet. Often it seems as though the wizards who have foisted this on us didn't think it all the way through. So now we have bank robbers such as the ones described in A ring of cyber-crooks used an unusual trick to steal up to $1 billion from banks around the world.
Their trick involved spear-phishing selected bank employees to get them to open a document that infected the system with malware that allowed the robbers to get into the computer system, look around and figure out how make their own fraudulent transactions look like normal business. Excerpt:
In this way, Kaspersky said, the criminals learned how the bank clerks worked and could mimic their activity when transferring the money.
In some cases, Carbanak inflated account balances before pocketing the extra funds through a fraudulent transaction. Because the legitimate funds were still there, the account holder would not suspect a problem.
Kaspersky said Carbanak also remotely seized control of ATMs and ordered them to dispense cash at a predetermined time, when a gang member would be waiting to collect the money.
It ain't Bonnie and Clyde.
Yeah, that tone was meant to sound sarcastic. After all Barack Obama and crew boasted that his administration would be the most open and transparent in history. That statement is no longer operative, to use a phrase the Nixon administration put into the popular lexicon to mean the statement was a lie.
The Obama administration is the opposite of open and transparent. Sharyl Attkisson wrote a whole book about it. Now she wants information from the file the FBI has on her, but to get the Department of Justice to obey the law and deliver on her FOIA request she had to sue. See 'Challenging the federal government': Sharyl Attkisson sues the DOJ. Excerpt:
"I am hoping to get information that sheds light on a number of problems I’ve been dealing with," Attkisson told the Washington Examiner's media desk Friday evening. "One of the items the FBI is withholding is information surrounding a case they opened on my computer intrusions, which lists me as the victim."
"Yet they never told me they opened the case, never interviewed me, and won’t produce material relevant to the case or the case file. The case has to progress through court and, historically, the government drags it out (at taxpayer expense). So it’s unclear when, if ever, we might receive the documents to which we are entitled," she said.
Judicial Watch has joined Attkisson in the lawsuit.
It's a shame that in order to get delicate information a person has to sue to enforce a FOIA request. The real losers are the taxpayers who end up paying the legal fees of both sides. No wonder there are so many lawyers in Washington.
Ordinary people who step up in times of crisis -- those are heroes.
We all regret the cold blooded murder of the two NYPD police officers in Brooklyn yesterday. It was tragic and senseless. Much has and will be written about the incident. So let's focus on a smaller aspect of that incident.
Two Con Ed workers saw the murder and followed the killer in their truck. They tried to stop him, but he threatened them with his gun. They were unarmed, this being New York City where only police and outlaws carry guns. So they backed away but followed the killer, helping police locate him. The story is at NYPost.com. See Con Ed workers confronted gunman after he shot cops.
They remain anonymous, because, let's face it, the killer could become some sort of folk hero to people like the misguided miscreants who cheered when the cops got killed.
Kudos to those two unsung heroes.
We understood Obama's motive before the November elections -- get the black voter bloc fired up enough to go to the polls in a non-presidential election. Whether it worked or not, it wasn't enough to save many Democrats.
And after the election, instead of telling the agitators in Ferguson to give it up and go home, he told them to "stay the course." So when the grand jury decision was made public the rioters and looters hit the streets, hard. All poor Dr. Frankenstein could do was watch it on TV, safe and sound in the White House.
It was a split-screen spectacle, the president of the United States appealing for calm while Ferguson was starting to erupt in flames.
As Obama was saying “there is inevitably going to be some negative reaction, and it will make for good TV,” the images of tear gas and looting were competing for attention.
I don’t know that anything the president said at that point could have deterred the protestors and agitators after no indictment was returned, and here’s why: They were reacting to a media narrative that hardened into cement soon after the tragedy. And we now know that narrative was filled with misinformation.
President Obama is a community organizer first and foremost. The next thing we know he'll be sending teams to Ferguson to help the looters set up their new big screen TVs.
Update: An alternate explanation from Instapundit:
Obama is the champion of the urban-black wing of the party, and because of him that wing has been on top. But his star is fading, black voters are beginning to realize that they haven’t benefited economically, and the next Dem nominee — whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, or Elizabeth Warren — will be from the white gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The riots, the marches, the traffic-blocking are a way of telling them that the Sharpton wing is still a force to be reckoned with, and to improve its bargaining power between now and 2016. At least, that’s the only way this — not at all spontaneous — street theater makes sense.
Highly plausible. Dr. Frankenstein is the Democrat voter, and the monster is Obama.
On cold mornings some drivers start their cars to let them warm up while the driver goes back in the house. The running car becomes a target for thieves. But one recent morning in Hatom City, Texas (near Ft. Worth), a police officer started his car and sat in it while it warmed up. It was an unintentional bait car.
Two fellows in a Mustang cruised slowly down the street, then doubled back. Frost on the window obscured the police officer. The Mustang pulled up beside the cop's car, and one of the fellows got out and opened the officer's car door.
One of the topics Sharyl Attkisson covered very adroitly was Fast and Furious amid Obama Administration stonewalling. And she did such a good job of reporting that CBS canned her.
Eric Holder withheld documents subpoenaed by Congress, and as a result, Holder was found in contempt of Congress. Then came the document dump on November 4 which, according to Darrell Issa, still lacked about 1/3 of the documents requested.
But the documents as they've been described in the press don't seem to contain a smoking gun, just angry rants. See Attorney General Eric Holder: Critics of handling of Fast & Furious gun walking scandal can 'kiss my ass'.
Holder replied, 'Some people can kiss my ass.'
In another 2011 email Holder vented to colleagues about GOP congressional investigator Darrell Issa 'and his idiot cronies.'
So this is the sort of stuff he thought should be covered by the executive privilege? This is the stuff an attorney general is willing to get held in contempt over? Naw, the incriminating stuff is still being withheld.
Editor's note: Maybe it was on Lois Lerner's hard drive. Robo-ed.
The crime statistics released by the city of Midland, Texas, on February 6, 2014, show 568 burglaries in 2013. That's just shy of two a day and up from 559 in 2012. No one wants to be burglarized, and I suppose each of us has devised a method of preventing burglaries or redirecting them to another house. My own method is to own things so old and cheap that only an idiot would break in to steal them.
Be that as it may, there's an excellent video online at the Richardson, Texas, website titled James: Confession of a Burglar. Probably part of a plea deal, a prolific burglar named James describes his tactics. It's 17 minutes long and worth the time it takes to watch it.
Here's a direct link if the embed doesn't work.
Note: If all this looks familiar it was featured on these pages last year at James the burglar describes his M.O..
P.S. Be sure to check out Crimemapping.com for criminal activity near you.
This is, of course, about the loopy decision by the students at a liberal arts college to allow the convicted cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, to give the school's commencement speech.
Washington Times says: "The Pennsylvania prison should unplug his microphone and tell Mumia to put a sock in it."
No. Let him talk. This provides a clear image of the students at Goddard College for potential employers to assess their ability to think. It provides a dog whistle to identify a solid lefty who is way too much into authority disrespect and celebrity worship.
There's an old saying: "Their minds were so open their brains fell out." Here's a good example.
We would shrug and say, "typical," if it were some banana republic. But it's the United States Internal Revenue Service. The IRS. The agency that collects taxes from you, me, and half the citizens of this great nation.
Mark Fitzgibbons calls it "outrageous." It's IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's statement that people in the IRS will obey the law whenever they can. In other words, they don't really have an obligation to follow the law, and there's not even an honor system with some sanction when they stray. They just do it whenever they can. See Outrageous IRS Commissioner False Claim: 'Whenever we can, we follow the law'.
Maybe we should be grateful for that. After all, what they've been caught doing is tampering with a presidential election. If they really wanted to harm the administration's political opposition and didn't have to honor any existing laws they could do some real damage not just to targeted individuals and entities, but to the nation as we know it.
I would like to remain optimistic. Some day, not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but some day we'll have a government comprised of honest, decent bureaucrats who love the country and the constitution more than they hate political opponents.
Forum users and blog commenters can still remain anonymous to most of the other users. But some of the most serious tools of anonymity look to be easily pierced by determined governments.
After the Edward Snowden revelations about how the US government was spying on US citizens some of the tech gurus were advocating use of Tor to thwart the spies and skip around the internet anonymously.
However, Tor isn't such a good place to conceal one's internet usage after all. The FBI used some dubious tactics to dig out some purveyors of kiddie porn who were hiding in the Tor tunnel. See Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer. It's a good story.
The Netherlands police had a web crawler written which would collect every Tor address it could find in that portion of the web not revealed by the typical search engine. They found one in 2011 with an administrator account without a password and went to work on it to find the owners location. It was in Nebraska, and they turned it over to the FBI.
The FBI watched it for a year while developing malware which would find out who was visiting the site. In 2012 they arrested the operator and and installed drive-by downloads on his three servers. The downloads would infect each computer that visited the sites and reveal their IP addresses, hardware MAC addresses, a Windows host names. They obtained that information on at least 25 visitors to the site, some of whom are currently on trial.
Apparently, just visiting a kiddie porn site is illegal. That's a good reason to keep anyone else from using your computer, and pity the poor person who stumbled on one of those sites accidentally.
As for the FBI malware, apparently it wasn't a one time deal. And as with any new technological tool, there's plenty of opportunity for abuse. combine malware that provides an opportunity to spy on anyone regardless of their attempts to hide and an environment in which political opponents are singled by a government, and there's a problem that should worry us all.
The three Rs have always been a factor in the treatment of convicted law breakers. That's restraint, rehabilitation and retribution. That last one gets hidden under the rug in Western nations, but retribution is a strong element in human nature. We don't let victims set the punishment, because the desire for retribution is too strong. So there's more rationality by assigning the penalty selection to an impartial jury.
The death penalty has been with us for quite some time, and lately there's been much needed attention to the possibility that the condemned might have been wrongly convicted. But for most there was no question. And protesters were left complaining about the death penalty in general.
Ordinarily the condemned is simply put to sleep. But with recent shortages of the necessary drugs, problems have occurred. One guy, Joseph Wood, didn't simply fall asleep:
The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona lasted for nearly two hours on Wednesday, as witnesses said he gasped and snorted for much of that time before eventually dying.
This was so newsworthy to the publishers of the morning paper here in Midland, Texas, that they ran the same AP story about it two straight days in a row. They wanted to make sure everyone saw it, presumably.
However, consider that some crimes are truly awful, and victims have died after terrible suffering. For some horrendous crimes there was hardly a whimper about the death penalty. Few protested Timothy McVeigh's execution.
For some killers maybe getting put to sleep is too peaceful. When Osama bin Laden walked out of his bedroom he may not have even seen the firing squad that dispatched him. And he didn't endure anywhere near the suffering he inflicted on his victims. Had he been captured would simply putting him to sleep been enough to satisfy the retribution part of the three Rs?
So maybe jurors in death penalty cases should get another option in certain cases: slow death. Make it a feature, not a bug.
Here in the melting pot of the U.S. we are expected to tolerate all religions and their practices, however bizarre they might seem to those of us not indoctrinated in said religions.
But the Sharia law popular in some religions really takes it over the line. Check out this one at Phlily.com: Police: Suspected thief almost gets his hand cut off.
A leader at a West Philadelphia mosque was arrested for allegedly trying to chop off the hand of a member accused of stealing money from prayer jars, police said Friday.
The mosque leader was only partially successful as the machete was too dull to cut all the way through. One arrested and a warrant was issued for the arrest of an accomplice.
Let's give a one handed clap for religious tolerance.
Apparently, there are tape recordings of Hillary chortling over a win she got for a client years ago when she was practicing law. The client was charged with raping a minor, and Hillary prevailed for the defense. There's nothing earth shattering about that, but it's news today because of the tape recording in which Hillary Clinton, the front runner in the party of women's victim-hood, laughs and brags about getting an accused rapist off.
This is the type behavior Democrats would typically hammer if it were a Republican but ignore in another Democrat. So it's noteworthy that some of the Dems on MSNBC not only acknowledged it but seem to almost criticize Hillary's behavior. See MSNBC: Hillary Clinton Tapes ‘Disturbing, Jarring’.
The other day we talked about Edward Klein's report that the Obama crew will throw their weight behind Elizabeth Warren if she runs for the Democrat presidential nomination against Hillary. MSNBC has a direct line to the White House, and it's doubtful they would do anything Obama doesn't want them to do. So it seems likely team Obama is egging MSNBC on in a smear campaign against Hillary. We'll get a clearer picture when more evidence comes to light.
Editor's Note: Wasn't the alleged rapist innocent until proven guilty? Maybe he was innocent, and Hillary got the right outcome. Robo-ed | Quite true, quite true. The notion that a male accused of a sex crime could be innocent seems quaint today. Sleepless.
He's given us numerous reasons, but Gowdy's performance in the IRS hearings is something to behold. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen got high and mighty the other day when someone said they didn't believe him. But smugness can only take a person so far. And Trey Gowdy was just the person to bring him down a notch.
Watch Gowdy grill Koskinen in this video.
It's possible that no criminal charges will ever develop from these hearings. But it's heartwarming to see someone like Gowdy put an arrogant bureaucrat in his place.
Democrats were whooping it up last year when Elizabeth Warren berated some bank regulators, even though she had it wrong. Democrats have so far ignored the IRS scandal, and there's every reason to expect them to stand behind any bureaucrat who advances the party line even when he/she broke the law to do so. But the rest of us can take comfort in small public comeuppances such as the one Gowdy gave Koskinen.
John Yoo has a short, thoughtful treatise about the contest sure to develop between Congress and the White House with a White House seeking to conceal as much information as possible. See The Coming Clash on Benghazi. He predicts there will be three major legal issues that will need to be resolved: executive privilege, the right against self-incrimination, and contempt.
Here is a summary:
Executive Privilege - Congress has the power of oversight and the right to get the information necessary to do its job. However, the President's people might claim "Executive Privilege" to protect information that should stay secret to protect diplomatic or military operations. But there's a snag. To make that claim would be an admission that the President actually received information and advice during the attack. Furthermore, the damage at Benghazi has already been done, and surely the diplomatic and military practices in place there are not still in use elsewhere, so any disclosure wouldn't be damaging. Besides, the committee could agree to keep it secret anyway.
Taking the 5th - It's likely that the President's people may take the 5th. (The one amendment the President likes, as the old joke goes.) The committee could offer immunity, but if they don't or the witnesses still won't talk then the committee could find them in contempt.
Contempt - Now we have a problem. The Executive Branch is in charge of criminal prosecution, so a contempt charge would be subject to an Attorney General who is extremely dedicated to the President. So expect no attempts at prosecution. That leaves Congress to exercise its own power to punish for contempt. John Boehner has already expressed a reluctance to do that. So it's anybody's guess whether Congress would do anything. To quote Yoo's closing sentence:
In the end, Congress has the authority to respond by invoking its own constitutional powers, but whether the House will flex its constitutional muscles will require political courage that is rare in Washington.
On the other hand, a lot of people will be watching. And it will be much easier to be courageous when millions of eyes are on them.
Someone could be pulling his leg, but it sounds authentic. It's a version of the story that's been around before, although that really shouldn't add much to its credibility.
One of the many questions that remain unanswered is why were those Americans there. Allen West says the following, among other things, in Exclusive: Confidential source reveals to me what really happened in Benghazi:
And I learned, as I presumed, that there was a covert weapons scheme going on in Libya, Benghazi. We had been supplying radical Islamists with weapons against Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi, effectively supplying the enemy and destabilizing that country. And it seems that there was a CIA weapons buy-back program, the aim of which was to ship the retrieved weapons out of Libya through Turkey, and to the Islamist forces in Syria.
So is this a phony conspiracy theory? Or is this the truth? There are Democrats dedicated to hiding the truth, and it's looking like they had good reason. But Trey Gowdey's select committee should get to the bottom of it in spite of the coverup attempts.
Updated: For some reason my correction in the title didn't get copied and pasted before I hit "Publish." That's Allen West not Adam West. Holy smoking gun, Batman!
Could it be that Barack Obama is playing the presidential version of the Knockout Game? Obamacare certainly is knocking citizens for a loop. One has to wonder if it really is incompetence or if he is deliberately trying to hurt the American people.
What's ironic about Obama and the Knockout Game -- the sport where black youths attempt to knock unconscious some unsuspecting white person -- is that it wasn't too long ago that President Obama and the reverends of the grievance industry were lecturing white people that they should let down their guards when approached by hooded black youths. After watching the knockout videos a white person would have to be an idiot to do that. Thanks for nothing, Obama.
Editor's note: Maybe Trayvon Martin was trying to play the Knockout Game without knowing his target was armed. Robo-ed.
This story comes out of Britain from dailymail.co.uk -- Caught green-handed: How a man who stole from car fell into a booby trap. The bobbies set out a bait car armed with a SmartWater trap which sprayed paint that was invisible without a black light, but under the black light it glowed green. Very clever. The perp ripped off a laptop and other items and left with a green look.
It's worth noting that the thief, Yafet Askale, was found guilty and sentenced to "49 hours of community work and £400 costs." Oh well, maybe the public shaming is what deters thieves in London. Ya think?
Those spray bombs don't appear to be available for sale to the public, however SmartWater does sell a coding solution with which individuals can mark their property. It's a bit pricey at $99, but that's a one year subscription fee which includes the testimony of an expert witness for criminal prosecution.
DIYers might just want to mark their property items with a cheap paint that looks invisible but shows up under a black light.
Better yet, just write down the dang serial number!
Record numbers of citizens are earning concealed carry licenses, and presumably many of them actually carry a concealed handgun when they're out and about. And while they each had to sit through a class lecture and demonstrate shooting abilities, that minimum amount of instruction may not prepare them for a situation where they find themselves in the same building or room where an insane killer is blasting away at innocent people. Although, most of those incidents occur in places where law abiding citizens are prohibited from carrying guns, it's entirely possible that the shooter is so crazy he/she would try to do it where some citizens might be armed.
So citiens should have some idea about what to do. There was a video circulating a while back that purported to provide advice to unarmed potential victims on how to deal with such a situation by hiding or arming oneself with scissors. But what if the citizen is armed?
The local shooters association has monthly events in which participants run through a half dozen scenarios designed to test their speed and accuracy under the pressure of competition. Those events are pretty good practice for the average shooter and perhaps a good place to learn one's limitations. (It was for me.)
That leads us to this article by Greg Ellifritz titled Active Shooter Response for the Armed Citizen in which he gives some excellent advice to the typical gun carrying citizen. (Hat tip SM. Thanks!)
He starts out with the question the citizen would have to ask, "Do I get out safely or do I risk my life to save others? Tough call." Tough call, indeed.
Mr. Ellifritz continues with some firearm tips and some good tactical advice. Read the whole thing, it's worth the time.
But before closing this post let me pass along one useful bit of advice he provided. Keep the concealed handgun concealed or hidden until ready to use it. Waving a gun around in an active shooter situation could draw fire not only from the bad guy/gal but also other gun carrying good guys/gals as well as police.
Post Script. Mr. Ellifritz mentions Charles Whitman, the infamous University of Texas Tower shooter from 1966. That brings to mind the citizens' response to that shooting. Here's a sentence from a 1999 article about that incident:
After the first fifteen minutes, the sniper was pinned down by students and other civilians who'd spontaneously flocked to the university area with deer rifles.
"Students and other civilians." Hooray for them.
These two were not the only ones involved, but they may be the only ones who were caught and prosecuted.
Here's how it worked. A scout would peruse social media and dating websites for some potential victim who might fall for the scam. Then contact would be initiated with a story about how they were in the U.S. military. Then at some point the the victim would be asked for cash for travel expenses or for a satellite phone or some such. According to BBC 374 people were conned, and the scam netted over $1 million.
Check out the two beauty queens.
They were prosecuted in Colorado. But the irony is that these two were probably patsies themselves having been dumb enough to agree to be the ones who actually accepted the cash when it was tendered by the victim.
Maybe it's because I just watched the latest episode of Breaking Bad, but something compelled me to do an image search with the words: drug smuggling truck.
Take a look at this set up. This smuggler was almost too clever for his own good.
Found at 9gag.com. "Gag" in the URL might be a tip off.
Meanwhile, here is a link the search pulled up that has lots of innovative smuggling images. Oddarena.com.
Note to DEA, FBI, NSA and all the other alphabet snoopers. This post is for entertainment purposes only. If you're on the taxpayers' dime, get back to work.
We are told that Texas interstate highways are conduits for smuggling drugs from Mexico to points farther North. And from time to time we see headlines about some vehicle having been discovered to be hauling a sizable cache of contraband. Then there's an attempt to explain how that particular vehicle was singled out from the millions of other vehicles on the roadways.
The story goes something like this: A DPS officer noticed that a truck had an outdated inspection sticker and pulled it over. The driver acted nervous, so the vehicle was searched. Officers found a sealed container filled with drugs inside the vehicle's gas tank.
Now we know the real reason why the vehicle was pulled over. Edward Snowden revealed how the NSA was collecting meta data from certain phone calls, possibly all phone calls originating from or received in the U.S. And now Reuters is telling about a secret organization called Special Operations Division (SOD) which is a partnership among two dozen agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. SOD distributes information, allegedly legally obtained, to various law enforcement agencies. From Reuters:
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. "You'd be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it," the agent said.
Then, according to the Reuters article, in a process described as "parallel construction," a fake story would be concocted to explain why they had probable cause to stop and search that vehicle. Convictions are sure to be appealed because of the lack of the honesty on the part of the government.
It brings to mind that famous scene from "A Few Good Men" in which Colonel Jessup makes an angry attempt to justify his illegal behavior because his work is so important.
Meanwhile, back to Snowden's NSA leak, criminal defense attorneys are seeking the phone data NSA has been collecting to try to obtain evidence showing their clients were not at the crime scene. See Defense lawyers insist on clients’ right to use NSA records -- via Instapundit. If the NSA does indeed possess a database containing the meta data for all of our phone calls as alleged, then that data could basically recreate a trail establishing the location of anyone with a phone at any given time. If they are going to use it to prosecute someone, then it should be available to exculpate someone, too.
Last night was the National Night Out annual event here in Midland, Texas. So this might be a good opportunity to listen to a career burglar and try to use that information to protect ourselves from people in his line of work.
This video is available for viewing at the Richardson, Texas, police website. Link. And it contains a brief biography of James, the burglar, as well as Q and A in which he describes how he did his job.
The introductory bio said he became addicted to heroin while serving in Vietnam. He returned to the States with a $400 a day habit, and he resorted to burglary to feed his drug dependency. The video said he was a 40 year old burglar and that he turned 21 in 1971. So that puts the recording date at around 1990. His hair looks a little long for that era, but maybe his long prison sentence locked in the style prevailing at the peak of his career. In any event, the tactics he described could still be in use today.
Now for some of the video highlights. He would follow a UPS delivery truck around and let the driver do the work of determining whether anyone was home. At that time, UPS drivers would leave a yellow card on the door notifying residents that a delivery had been attempted. So there was a notice right there on the front door announcing that no one was home. UPS drivers today are even more accommodating -- they simply leaving the package. James would love that.
At night he would look in residential garages and count cars. If there were two cars at night but none in the morning, that told him no one was home. He used a burglar's tool -- a pry bar especially for doors which would take the whole trim off. A dead bolt lock was useless. Quote:
You can put whatever you want in there, but you're really dealing with just trim and pieces of sheet rock, and the bar I use just collapses all that and without much of a vigorous effort.
People who leave their curtains open and lights on in the belief that it will deter burglars are mistaken, he said. All that did was give him a good view of what was available for stealing.
He didn't want a confrontation after he commenced the burglary, so he would bang on the front door to make sure no people or dogs were inside. If he went around back he would have a story ready in case someone surprised him. Quote:
I've had people walk out in the back yard and say, 'What do you want, what are you doing here?' And I'll say, 'My God, what are you doing still in your home? Don't you know we've got a gas leak reported here? Let me go call it in, what's your address?' And I'm gone. Confusion is what I try to instill.
He worked with a partner, and the two of them took six minutes to burglarize a house. They used sheets and pillow cases to carry the loot and keep it out of sight once it was in his pickup.
He said his victims were consistent in where they kept their valuables. Jewelry would be in a jewelry box on top of the dresser, in a bathroom closet, in the bedroom closet, under the bed, in the top dresser drawer, or sometimes in the bottom dresser drawer. Guns were kept under the mattress or in the closet.
The fence is an important person to a career burglar. James said he would go straight to the fence after stealing something. Quote:
My specialty is having the stuff sold and gone before it's even reported stolen. In that light, you, the thief, you're either good or you're bad. If you're good, you meet people at drug houses, uh, people in the business that, uh, if you're good, you go to prison, you do your time and you got no problems, plus the fact the number of people you meet in prison -- hey what are you doing? -- well, you know what I'm about. You get referrals. I mean, there's no problem about selling the merchandise. You'd be surprised, you'd be literally be surprised. I have a fence that owns five car lots. I have another fence that is a vice president of a very large dealership. Then again I have another one that owns a regular auto body shop. I have another guy who works, he does a lot of the buying for a very big store that's located in the Mexican barrio. And uh, a lot of my stuff goes to Mexico. The VCRs, the TVs, the microwaves, right across the line. ...
I will tell you this. When a number, identification number is scratched on a merchandise, it usually lessens the value of it ... on the fences end, because he has to deal with that.
The video concludes with his tips on how to avoid being burglarized.
Number one, close your blinds, close your curtains, leave the stereo on. The best protection you can have if you don't have an alarm is a dog. A burglar will not mess with you if you've got a dog. Now I say "normally," because I know I don't, and I've only seen a few guys that will mess with them. Like I say, your best protection is an alarm. The next best protection is a dog inside.
Your next best protection is concerned neighbors. People out there, you know, you live next door to each other for three years and you don't even know your neighbor's name. Uh, I can understand privacy, but to a point. I mean if people got together in concern, I bet they could curtail 1/3 of the burglars that are taking place just by involvement. If I'm doing a burglary and I see somebody walk out of a neighbor's house and look at me, I'm gone. Obviously I'm attracting attention, and that's not how it goes. When you get in a concerned neighborhood, you usually don't go back. You know, these people are on their job, you leave these people alone or you'll get busted.
If the embed doesn't work, watch "James, Confession of a Burglar," at this link.
Not long ago we talked about the proliferation of Craigslist ads for positive pregnancy tests. This is even worse. It's the revelation that fake DNA can be manufactured. (This was revealed in 2009 and comes from deep in my "pending" list.)
An article titled Israeli Scientists Prove DNA Evidence Can Be Faked described how scientists could make some DNA to match a sample. To wit:
In the second experiment, the team used a pooled sample of many people's DNA profiles that were stored in law enforcement databases. The scientists cloned tiny snippets of the DNA, created a library from the data, and simply mixed the elements together to match any profile required. According to Frumkin's team, such a "library" of 425 different DNA snippets could cover any possible profile.
They say the faked DNA lacks certain molecules and that tests could detect it if the tests were conducted.
Meanwhile, a year ago -- July of 2012 -- there were splashy headlines screaming Justice Dept., FBI to review use of forensic evidence in thousands of cases because of flawed forensic evidence which could have resulted in the conviction of innocent people. A year later -- July of 2013 -- we see U.S. reviewing 27 death penalty convictions for FBI forensic testimony errors. It would be nice if they finished up their review before the defendants get executed.
When we hear the phrase, "science doesn't lie," it's worthwhile to remember that science is only as good as the people performing it.
Naked Security points to a report the Home Affairs Committee of the U.K. Parliament issued yesterday about the state of cyber crime in Britain. The summary has a gloomy title: UK failing to win the war on e-crime and contains this tantalizing tidbit:
There appears to be a ‘black hole’ where e-crime is committed with impunity. Online criminal activity which defrauds victims of money is often not reported to or investigated by law enforcement. Banks simply reimburse the victims with no pursuit of the perpetrators. Criminals who commit a high volume of low level fraud can still make huge profits. Banks must be required to report all e-crime fraud to law enforcement.
In other words, crimes against banks that net the fraudsters a sum below a certain amount don't get reported, and the banks merely reimburse the victim for the loss to protect the bank's reputation. It doesn't say what that amount is, however the report does say that in 2011 the "Cost of cyber crime to the UK estimated to be £27bn." The number of crimes are growing as the use of social networks grows.
Chapter 4 titled Can web service providers protect our data? is worth a look because it details some of the types of crimes aided by social networks, including identity theft, phishing, theft of personal information, click jacking, advance fee and romance scams, and Twitter direct messages luring victims to an infected website. They throw in cyber bullying and twitter trolling which apparently are crimes in the U.K.
The lesson we should take away from this is that anyone using the net should maintain caution when clicking. At some point banks in the U.K. and the U.S. could try to blame losses on the victims and decline to reimburse them.
In the U.S. the main cyber threat currently, according to an FBI warning, is one whereby the victims somehow allow the Citadel malware platform to load the Reveton ransomware onto their computers which locks the victims' computers and delivers a blackmail message disguised to be from the FBI, DHS or IC3 accusing them of committing a crime and seeking payment for a fine in order to get their computers unlocked.
The FBI's advice: get the computer repaired, report it to IC3, and keep antivirus software updated.
It's a jungle out there.
Ed and Elaine Brown didn't believe that the U.S. government had the authority to tax citizens and declined to pay. After they were convicted in 2007 for tax evasion they hunkered down in their New Hampshire compound and held off authorities. They were subsequently convicted in 2009 of charges related to the stand-off and sentenced to 35 and 37 years, respectively.
The articles don't say how the Browns were ultimately apprehended, so that story must not have been newsworthy. However, the U.S. Marshal's office is going to attempt to auction off their property in September. But here's the dilemma:
[Chief U.S. Deputy Marshal Brenda] Mikelson said she has contacted numerous federal agencies that have explosive detection equipment and dogs, and none could ensure a clean sweep of the property, which is set back from the road and includes acres of storm-damaged trees and other natural debris.
"With the size of the property, there's no way to search it and have any guarantees," Mikelson said.
However, the hilltop house and the grounds up to the tree line have been searched extensively and are deemed free of improvised explosive devices and other booby traps, Mikelson said.
Flip this house, literally.