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Seatbelts are a crime prevention tool (0)

Posted in Crime Prevention June 26th, 2008 @ 8:30 am by Linda 

It isn’t a crime not to wear your seatbelt in Minnesota. It isn’t a primary offense if you aren’t wearing a seatbelt it is only a secondary offense. Police officers cannot pull you over if you aren’t wearing a seatbelt.

But it IS a crime when you see people thrown from their cars in an accident and die on the highway.

This year, Minnesota police added patrols during the statewide Click It or Ticket seatbelt enforcement sweep. Minnesota law does require any occupant in the front seat to be buckled in as well as any occupant under the age of 11. More than 400 cities across the state participated in this nationwide crime prevention campaign.

When statistics show that wearing a seatbelt saves lives, why wouldn’t you take a second to wear a seatbelt? Take for instance the preliminary data from the state of Colorado who has the most aggressive seatbelt education. Statistics show the number of unbelted drivers and passengers who died on Colorado roadways dropped to an all-time low in 2007. Last year, 206 people who were not buckled up were killed in crashes. This is out of a total of 389 drivers and passengers who died. The percentage of unrestrained occupants killed was also the lowest on record at 53%. By comparison, in 2002, the first year of Click It or Ticket enforcement in Colorado, 380 people died unbuckled, representing 67% of the total number of drivers and passengers killed.

Because of Minnesota’s Click it or Ticket program this year, 81 percent of front seat occupants were wearing their seatbelts. That is an increase of four percent from last year. Did you know that most accidents occur within one mile of your home? So even if you are just driving to the local grocery store, make sure that everyone in your car is buckled up. You can help save lives by wearing your seatbelt.

Illegal drug use in Minnesota (0)

Posted in Illegal Drugs June 25th, 2008 @ 8:45 am by Linda 

Illegal drug use and arrests have stayed about the same in Minnesota according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) . In 2005, the number of people arrested in Minnesota for illegal drug use was at its peak at 292 arrests. The last two years this number has decreased steadily from 272 in 2006 to 258 in 2007.

In 2007, marijuana and cocaine were the most drugs seized in Minnesota by the DEA. Twenty-five meth lab incidents were also reported last year. The DEA reports that in Minnesota, Mexican traffickers that include both Mexican groups and street gangs such as the Latin Kings control the transportation, distribution and bulk sales of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and black tar heroin. Independent African American gangs mostly distribute crack cocaine.

The DEA also found that in outlying areas of the state, independent Caucasian groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs distribute methamphetamine in small quantities. Other drugs and pharmaceuticals such as OxyContin® and Vicodin® continue to be a problem in Minnesota. Primary methods of distribution are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers as well as “doctor shopping. Club drugs including MDMA (ecstasy) are most prevalent in Minneapolis’ gay population, and to a lesser extent, among young people at raves and nightclubs in suburban areas.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations ship marijuana into the state. Hispanic street gangs control the distribution at the retail level. However, marijuana is also available from local cultivators.

Local law enforcement agencies and the DEA are fighting illegal drug use and crimes. The DEA has posted their Most Wanted Fugitives for Federal Drug Crimes.

The high cost of shoplifting crimes (0)

Posted in Crime Prevention June 24th, 2008 @ 11:29 am by Linda 

A recent survey estimated that shoplifting or retail theft costs about $40.5 billion a year. New reports are showing that repeat offenders who are struggling with financial issues are stealing more common, everyday items such as groceries. Shoplifting is the single largest category of property crime in America with bank and car theft far behind.

Most experts agree that when the economy is down as it is now, shoplifting and other crimes go up. People are losing full-time jobs, getting only part-time jobs and having difficulty paying their mortgage or credit cards. They turn to shoplifting to get the items they want or need. This doesn’t justify shoplifting, it’s still a crime.

Shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor petty theft if the value of the stolen goods totals less than $300 to $500. First time offenders may be charged with a less serious crime such as disorderly conduct. But repeat offenders can be charged with grand theft or larceny – both are felony crimes if the stolen goods exceed $500.

The National Learning and Resource Center and the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association’s Crime Prevention Tips are excellent sources for retailers to learn how to prevent shoplifting crimes. As long as the economy is poor, shoplifting crimes will continue and will cost all of us a lot of money in the end.

The 21st Century way to catch criminals (0)

Posted in Crime Prevention June 19th, 2008 @ 10:06 am by Linda 

Back in the “olden times,” police relied on fingerprints at a crime scene to show that a criminal was at a crime scene. Then the criminals got smart and started wearing gloves to cover up their fingerprints.

Now in 21st Century, crime fighting has leaped into the next generation of collecting fingerprints by using DNA samples to catch criminals. Recently, a man was connected to an armed robbery and arrested because of a piece of DNA evidence that was left at the crime scene.

Law enforcement agencies now use CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) to help catch criminals. CODIS has been gathering genetic samples from more than 1.6 million criminals, most taken after they entered prison. This database also includes more than 80,000 DNA samples gathered from unsolved crime scenes. Each month between 10,000 and 40,000 new samples are added by local authorities. The CODIS database was started in the early 1990s as a trial and expanded to 50 states in the late 1990s. Now, at least 170 local crime labs across the country can run DNA samples through the database and find matches.

One of the database’s more dramatic successes occurred in Houston when the FBI matched DNA evidence that helped to capture a bike-riding sexual predator who assaulted young boys at knifepoint. Police were at a standstill for months and parents were afraid to let their children outside to play. Once a DNA sample was available, CODIS found him and the police made the arrest.

Now for the first time, scientists are able to identify human DNA in dust. Although the amount recovered is tiny, further research could create a vital tool for investigators. They may be able to use the minuscule DNA collected from the dust at the crime scene to catch murderers and thieves by proving they were at a crime scene at a certain time.

Crime hasn’t changed in centuries, but now police have new techniques to help capture criminals.

Scam lottery letters and emails (0)

Posted in Crime Prevention June 18th, 2008 @ 11:04 am by Linda 

Scam lottery letters and emails are floating around again. When will these low-life people learn that we are much smarter than they are?

Here’s what the newest version is all about.

You receive a letter via USPS with a check/money order in a very large amount. They ask you to cash the check/money order and send back to them a portion as a “finders” fee for them. Of course, the check/money order is fake and not worth the paper it’s printed on. Whatever you do, DO NOT CASH IT!

These checks/money orders are counterfeit. You will owe the bank the amount you cashed. You can be arrested and even owe taxes on the amount of money you cashed even though it is fraudulent!

Here is a good site with loads of information about “How to tell if you have received a lottery scam letter.”

These low-life scammers even go as far as threatening your family and friends if you don’t comply with the letter. These are very dangerous people and it has been known that some people actually travel to West Africa or South Africa to “claim” their money. When they get there, the scammers steal your identity and your money.

Be aware folks, if you receive anything in the mail or even through an email that you didn’t ask for throw it out or delete it immediately.


Keeping Summer safe for Minnesota kids (0)

Posted in Crime Prevention, Uncategorized June 17th, 2008 @ 9:23 am by Linda 

Haven’t we heard this one before from our kids on summer vacation?

“I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.”

Now the kids of Minnesota can’t say that because summertime is filled with lots of fun and safe stuff for them to do.

The Twin Cities park and Recreation Departments are providing tons of activities to keep kids safe and entertained all summer long. From tennis lessons in Edina, kiddie soccer in Plymouth, day camp in Bloomington, fishing clinics throughout Minnesota, and playground activities in Hopkins and Minnetonka, summer activities and classes are offered for some 800,000 kids.

Jan Ficken, recreation manager fro Brooklyn Park recently said, “We have to have safe places for our kids to go, we have to have them connected to quality adults, and we also have to provide them with a variety of activities so they can explore interests and talents.”

Summer activities in local parks and recreation districts for kids is important for their emotional and mental health as well as promoting health and fitness. These activities give kids a way to make social connections and provide a form of day-care for working parents. There is even a mobile-fun wagon that drives around to communities and offers free puppet shows, climbing wall and inflated rigs for jumping and bouncing.

In today’s world where our kids need to be aware of the “stranger danger,” recreation programs are part of proactive policing that helps keep kids safe and out of trouble.

Another Scott Peterson Crime Pattern? (0)

Posted in Solving Crime June 3rd, 2008 @ 2:20 pm by Linda 

On June 2, 2008, Matthew Gretz admitted to a judge that he killed his artist wife, Kira Simonian, last June 29, 2007. This highly publicized murder in Hennepin County, Minnesota is now finally closed.

But what makes this crime so bizarre is the way Matthew Gretz committed the crime. On the morning of the murder, neighbors heard violent arguing in the couple’s apartment. Then they heard a man yell, “Do you love me?” and moments later, a woman screamed, twice, and then silence. Moments later Gretz was seen leaving the apartment and getting into a cab heading to the airport. Gretz who worked for Target claimed that he was on a business trip and knew nothing about the murder until he returned.

Here is where this murder has a similar pattern to Scott Peterson’s bizarre murder of his wife Laci. When Gretz returned, he had the audacity to play the role of grieving husband just as Scott Peterson pretended to be. Gretz even spoke at a public vigil three weeks after his wife’s death. He was crying and talking about how hard it was to cope everyday with the loss of his wife. When in reality, he was the one who stabbed her in the neck and chest 15 times and bludgeoned her head with a claw hammer.

Actually, police suspected Gretz from the start. Police thought it was unusual for Gretz to fly home from New York while he shipped his suitcase via Federal Express to relatives in Chicago. When the police seized and searched the suitcase, they found blood on the suitcase and other items in the suitcase. A DNA test matched Gretz and his wife’s blood. Gretz also had scratches and bruises consistent with a fight.

On the morning of the jury selection Gretz changed his mind and plead guilty to second-degree murder. What is still a mystery is “why” he killed his wife. Just like in the Scott Peterson’s case, we will probably never know why he killed his wife.

Crime knows no boundaries (0)

Posted in Misc Crime June 2nd, 2008 @ 10:53 am by Linda 

Back in March 2008, thirty-two bison were found slain on a private ranch in Park County, Colorado. What makes this crime so horrific is that these innocent bison were killed by so-called “hunters” gangland style.

Buffalo from Monte Downare’s ranch ran through the thin fence put up by Jeff Hawn, a newcomer from Texas. Hawn then called in 14 hunters to kill the bison. They left the dead buffalo where they were shot or where they eventually fell.

Rumor has it that the shooters dropped piles of corn or other foodstuffs to lure the bison off the Donware Ranch and into the killing zone. One of the shooters raced into the herd on a snowmobile to run the animals and make the kill at least a bit more sporting. Almost every one of the cows they killed, about twenty-nine of them were about to calve. Other rumors say that some of the hunters were Native American men and that they have a constitutional right to kill bison at any time of the year. However, the Native Americans living in the area say that this is not true. The law isn’t like that and they revere the bison and would never do anything like this.

The State of Colorado is an open range state and so the ethic and the law is that property owners are responsible for keeping animals on their property — and that you never kill a neighbor’s stock. The buffalo would cross from the Downare’s ranch next to Jeff Hawn’s 365 acres ranchette. Downare would bring them back but Hawn claimed they did damage to his property, including destroying a satellite dish. Then the bison crossed one more time and that’s when Hawn called in his gang of hunters to shoot the animals.

Local park County Sheriff and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were called in. According to the Rocky Mountain News in May 2008, Jeff Hawn was charged with theft, criminal mischief and thirty-two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. The loss to Downare’s herd was estimated at $77,000.

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