Not Every Hiding Spot For Gifts Is A Good One

Not Every Hiding Spot For Gifts Is A Good One

With the holidays finally here, everyone will be out and about doing a bit of holiday shopping in an attempt to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Now, finding the right gift for someone can be difficult, but it is possible. However, hiding a gift can be even more difficult. This is especially true when you live with the person that the gift is for.

Some people get really creative when it comes to hiding their gifts for others. Some of these places may truly be clever, while others really aren’t. A perfect example of a bad hiding spot for presents is leaving it in the car overnight instead of bringing it inside. Doing this can increase the chances of the gift being stolen by a thief. That is something that nobody wants, especially around the holidays.

That’s Not The Best Hiding Spot

Hiding presents from loved ones is always a little bit of an endeavor. Things get even harder if the person has a knack for hunting down hidden gifts. This leads some people to hiding the present in their car where the loved one is less likely to stumble upon it. Sometimes they do this because the person that the present is for is currently inside the house, which makes sneaking the present inside difficult.

Regardless of the reasoning behind deciding to hide a present in the car, even if only temporarily, this is a bad hiding spot. If a passerby were to see the present in the car, they may decide to try their hands at a little theft.

Even if they don’t see the present itself in the vehicle, a would-be thief may target the car for another reason. Maybe they see a purse or a cellphone lying forgotten on a seat. Maybe they simply checked the door and realized that the car was left unlocked. It doesn’t take much to entice a thief into breaking into a vehicle to steal something, and once they are in, they will likely do a thorough search.

The 9 PM Routine

This is one of the many reasons why law enforcement agencies all over the country have begun advertising the idea of the 9 PM Routine. The routine was created by the Pasco County Sherriff’s office in Florida. The intent was to help remind people to lock up each night and prevent crimes from occurring.

Many crimes are crimes of opportunity. They occur because a good opportunity presented itself to a would-be thief. They didn’t necessarily go out planning to rob that person, but when they discovered the car door or garage door was left open, they just had to search for anything valuable.

Simply locking all doors, both car and house, a person can greatly reduce the chances of someone robbing them. However, there is a little bit more to the 9 PM Routine. It also involves removing valuables from cars, and turning on exterior lights around the house. Removing valuables from car prevents them from being noticed by a thief. Turning on the lights removes the cover of night that thieves like to use when committing their crimes.

If a person wants to keep themselves and their stuff safe, they should practice participating in the 9 PM Routine each night.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Hiding holiday gifts from loved one’s can be difficult, which is why so many people get very creative with the spots they choose. However, one of the worst spots is in a car overnight. There, the gift becomes an easy target for anyone looking to make a quick score. If a person wants to make sure that their perfect gift for a loved one gets to the intended individual, then they should find a better hiding spot for the present.

Following the 9 PM Routine is also a pretty good idea, as it can keep a person’s stuff safe all year round. By practicing it every single evening, a person can fall into a good habit, and will be much happier than if the chanced it and had their car broken into.

 

Life After Jail

Life After Jail

After months and months of patiently waiting, the day has finally come – your loved one is coming home! It’s been a long time in the making and you and your family couldn’t be more excited to see their face, give them a big hug, and for their life to finally return to normal. Well, we hope that seeing their face and giving them a big hug will hold you over for some time because “getting back to normal” is going to take some time.

The harsh reality of a loved one obtaining their freedom is that life isn’t going to return to normal as soon as they return home. They will go through several different emotional stages such as culture shock and depression, as well as adjusting to the stigma that is associated with having a criminal record. As a family member, we want you to be prepared for things they will face as they adjust to everyday life.

Culture Shock

As you can imagine, the world continues to evolve while your loved one is in jail. This includes all aspects of life such as technology, politics, and entertainment. Once they are released, they will need to learn new technology – things like the latest smartphone, social media, or navigating websites. As your loved one navigates the new technological, political, or entertainment industry landscape, it is important that you remain patient and answer any questions they may have.

Depression

After one is released from jail, depression is common. As liberating as it may be, it will be tough on your loved one to readjust to daily life outside of strict schedules and constant supervised routine. Furthermore, they will begin facing the stigmas and the harsh reality of trying to obtain employment with a criminal record. Your loved one may feel lost as they try to find a new purpose and value in society. It is important that you help guide them, listen to their frustrations, and remain positive.

Anger Management

One way to show authority in jail is to show aggression toward other. It is important to remind your loved ones that this kind of behavior is not acceptable outside of jail. As someone who cares about them, it’s important that you help them find other means of expressing their frustrations and controlling their anger.

Fight Addiction

If your loved one had an addiction prior to going to jail, or developed one while in jail, it may have impacted their personality. It is important to show support for them and offer outside resources such as a therapist, social worker, or a doctor to help them combat their addiction and stay clean.

We know you are excited to see a loved one obtain their freedom. However, we also know that as exciting as it may be to be released from jail, you and your loved ones will face difficulties as they resume their life as a free person. It’s important to remind them of your support and be a constant source of positive influence as they adjust to life outside of jail.

 

How Should Firearms Be Stored?

How Should Firearms Be Stored?

Gun safety should be on the mind of every gun owner out there. Everyone who owns or even handles a gun should know how to use it safely. One of the important parts of owning a gun is how to store the item safely. No one wants a child to find the gun and cause harm to himself or someone else. That is why storage is so important.

Here in the state of California, gun owners are required by law to properly store their firearms.

Failure to do so can result in criminal charges, and that’s the best case scenario. The improper storage of a firearm can result in someone finding the gun, and hurting someone with it. If this happened, the owner of the gun would be held responsible.

The first part of storing a firearm properly revolves around unloading the gun before storing it. Guns should not be stored with ammunition in them. In fact, the gun and ammunition should be stored in two separate locations.

Next, the gun should be stored with some sort of safety device activated. This can be as simple as turning on the safety of the firearm. This will usually prevent the trigger from being able to be pulled. This decreases the chances of anyone accidentally setting of the firearm.

Lastly, the firearm and ammunition should both be stored in separate locked containers. This prevents anyone from accessing the weapon without the owner’s consent.

By doing all of this, a California gun owner ensures that his or her firearm is safely tucked away from prying hands. No child will be able to accidentally find the firearm and set it off by mistake. Following these guidelines, a gun owner takes the proper legal precautions of storing their firearm safely.

 

The Ins & Outs Of Insurance Fraud In California

The Ins & Outs Of Insurance Fraud In California

Fraud is the word used when a person says something they know to be untrue for the specific reason of obtaining some sort of benefit. One of the most common form of fraud in California is insurance fraud.

There are Multiple Types of Insurance Fraud

The State of California has authorized prosecutors to handle cases of insurance fraud that fall under the provisions laid out in Chapter 12 of the California Insurance Code. The code is commonly called the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. When insurance fraud is suspected, the Fraud Division mounts an extensive investigation that explores whether the fraud actually occurred and if the accused is in violation of California’s Penal and Insurance Codes. If the accused is found guilty, they’ll have a felony record.

Most of the cases handled by Fraud Divisions in California involve:

  • Auto insurance fraud
  • Health insurance fraud
  • Personal injury/worker’s compensation insurance fraud
  • Residential or Commercial property insurance fraud

What California Considers Insurance Fraud

Unlike some laws which are vague, when writing the laws involving insurance fraud, California lawmakers clearly outlined what they felt was insurance fraud. According to state laws, you can be found guilty of insurance fraud if you:

  • Knowingly took the steps needed to commit insurance fraud, such as hiding a vehicle and then telling the insurance company it was stolen.
  • You went through with the fraudulent act and filed the insurance claim.
  • If the Fraud Division can prove that both the act and intent to commit insurance fraud went together.

It’s important to note that you can be found guilty of felony insurance fraud even if you never receive any money from the act.

California’s insurance fraud laws are written in such a way that the only thing that has to be proven is act and intent.

Who Can Accuse You Of Insurance Fraud

In most states, the insurance company is the one who has to alert the authorities to an act of insurance fraud, but California is unique. When you read through the Insurance Frauds Prevention Act, you’ll see language that allows a person who isn’t connected to the insurance company to file a lawsuit against someone who they believe to be guilty of insurance fraud. The interesting thing about the law is that it enables the private citizen, AKA the whistleblower, be “rewarded” 30-50% of the settlement or trial award once the insurance fraud case reaches its conclusion.

Penalties Of Being Convicted Of Insurance Fraud In California

The most devastating aspect of being found guilty of insurance fraud is that you’ll have a felony record. In addition to that the judge can order you to pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to $10,000 for each violation as well as paying up to three times the amount you collected in fraudulent insurance claims.

 

Is It Time for Last Call?

Is It Time for Last Call?

California lawmakers have recently passed a bill that if signed by Governor Jerry Brown, would allow certain cities to extend how late alcohol could be served. The bill in question is Senate Bill (SB) 905. The bill was passed at the end of August 2018, and now awaits either the Governor’s veto or signature.

The new law proposed by SB 905 would allow cities to decide when bars and other alcohol serving establishments should stop serving alcohol. Currently, bars and restaurants in California are required to have their last call at 2AM. Under this new law, 9 cities would be able to extend their last call for a few more hours starting in 2021.

The 9 cities included in this bill are:

  • Cathedral City
  • Coachella
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • Palm Springs
  • Sacramento
  • San Francisco
  • West Hollywood

The idea behind doing this is to allow these cities, and California as a whole, to compete with neighboring states, such as Nevada, that allow drinking into the early morning hours. By extending last call by just a few hours, these cities could end up seeing increased revenue.

However, even with the Governor’s signature, the bill would also need to be approved by California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. If that were achieved, the law would go into effect in 2021 and last for 5 years where politicians would then get to decide if they wanted to keep the law or get rid of it.

 

Beware Of Porch Pirates This Holiday Season

Beware Of Porch Pirates This Holiday Season

The holiday season is here. This means that people all over will be flock to stores, both brick and mortar, and virtual alike as they search for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. While this is a very merry time of the year, there are unfortunately some Scrooges out there who like to take advantage of unsuspecting people.

Even when someone is shopping online, they need to be careful. If they aren’t then someone else could end up with their loved one’s Christmas gift. This can happen when the gift is eventually delivered. If it is left unattended for too long, then a passerby may decide to take for themselves. While most people wouldn’t do this, there are plenty of people out there who would.

Tips For Avoiding Package Theft

One of the simplest ways to avoid package theft is for a person to do all of their shopping at brick and mortar stores. This completely eliminates the chances of some thief stealing the items off the front porch. Of course, this method is incredibly tedious and inconvenient. Shopping online is so much simpler.

Luckily for online shoppers, there are ways of keeping their packages safe, thereby ensuring they get to the intended recipient. Many shipping companies have come to recognize the problem of package theft, and provide their clients with options to protect their shipments. A person is much more likely to get their package if they take advantage of these options accordingly.

First and foremost, get the tracking number for the shipment. This simple number allows a person to monitor their package and have a more accurate idea of when it will be delivered. From there, a person will either be able to get the package themselves, or possibly have a neighbor pick it up for them.

FedEx and the United States Postal Service (USPS) both allow customers to schedule their shipments in advanced. This helps a person make sure that they, or someone they trust, will be at home when the delivery arrives. Then the package will be able to be taken off the porch before some wannabe thief strolls by and gets a bright idea.

Some shipping companies, such as FedEx, also allow customers to require a signature for the delivery. This way, the package won’t be left at the house unless someone signs for it.

Another option that is available with some shippers, is the ability to make special requests with the delivery. A person can leave special instructions that the delivery person will follow, such as leaving the package at the back door or hidden in the bushes.

Another simple option that is available with all shipping companies is to have the package delivered to a different address. A person could have the package shipped to a trusted neighbor who is always home, or if their work allows it, ship it to their office.

Many stores allow their customers to use in-store pickup. The person orders the item online, and then can pick it up at a local store. Amazon offers a similar service called Amazon Locker where they will ship items to a local locker and giver the customer a code to open said locker. Even UPS has a service like this, where a person can request that the item be sent to a nearby UPS store where the item can then be picked up. These options eliminate any chances of the item being left in the open where a thief could take it. A person just needs to look into what the shipper or retailer offers.

Penalties Of Porch Piracy

Package theft from front doors, or package piracy as it is commonly called, is typically a crime of opportunity. More often than not, the thief was simply strolling or driving by when they saw the package and decided to take the unclaimed item for themselves. To them, it seems so simple. They only see it as taking a package, and so they don’t expect to get into any real trouble. However, that is not the case.

After all, the stealing of a package is theft. This can get a person charged with theft, petty or grand depending on the value of the contents of the package. A person could also face charges of mail theft.

Petty theft (Penal Code 484a & 488) and mail theft (Penal Code 530.5e) are misdemeanors that can earn a person:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Some combination fine and jail time.

Grand theft (Penal Code 487) involves the theft of any items that have a value greater than $950. The crime of grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The consequences for committing misdemeanor grand theft in California are similar to the ones above. Felony Grand theft can earn a person 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison, plus hefty fines.

Practice Safe Shipping

If a person wants to keep their shipments safe this holiday season, then they need to practice safe shipping. This means taking advantage of the above tips to ensure that either someone is there to pick-up the package, or it is put in a safe place for the person to pick-up later. So long as a person does that, they guarantee that they will get their packages safely. In turn, this means that their loved ones will all get the perfect gifts this holiday season. Who doesn’t want that?

Kidnapping Is Every Parents’ Worst Nightmare

Kidnapping Is Every Parents’ Worst Nightmare

All any parent ever wants is for their child to be happy and safe. They brought this person into the world, and they want to see them succeed. The last thing they want, is for something bad to happen to their precious little one. Many parents have nightmares about worst case scenarios. The parent prays that they never have to face something as bad as their worst fears, and most are lucky enough to get there wish. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

What is likely the worst fear of every parent, is their child getting kidnapped. This is truly a nightmare scenario where the child is forcibly taken by someone, putting the kid’s safety at risk. They can be abducted for any number of reasons, none of them good. No parents wants to experience that, which is why kidnapping cases, even attempted ones, are taken very seriously here in California.

What Is The Difference Between Kidnapping and Aggravated Kidnapping in California?

Kidnapping is an illegal act in California under Penal Codes 207, 208, 209, and 209.5. These laws make it illegal for any person to move another individual a great distance using force or fear without their consent. Once a person has done that, they have committed the crime of kidnapping. They now face felony charges.

Felony charges result in a person facing hefty fines and extended stays in a state prison. To be precise, a person charged with simple kidnapping faces a prison stay of three, five, or eight years. They will also likely face a fine of no more than $10,000.

While kidnapping someone is already a pretty big deal and a terrible thing to do, there are worse forms of kidnapping that can earn a person ever harsher penalties. A person commits aggravated kidnapping when they do one of the following when kidnapping someone:

  • Use force, fear, or fraud to kidnap someone under the age of 14.
  • Demand ransom after kidnapping someone.
  • Injure or kill the victim.
  • Kidnap the person when stealing their car.
  • Violate other laws while kidnapping the victim.

If a person commits aggravated kidnapping, they face harsher penalties than that of simple kidnapping. The severity of the penalties are dependent on facts of the crime. For instance, if the victim was under the age of 14, then the person faces five, eight, or eleven years in prison. If the person demanded ransom or kidnapped the victim for varying sex crimes, they face life in prison with the possibility of parole.

If the kidnapper committed any crimes of a sexual nature, than he or she will have to register for life as a tier 3 sex offender.

Lastly, both forms of kidnapping are considered serious and violent felonies. This means that they fall under California’s three strikes law. This means that if a person commits any type of kidnapping, they will have a strike against them. Anyone convicted of committing a second felony will automatically face twice the prison stay of the felony in question. Anyone who commits a third felony strike will face anywhere from 25 years to life in prison.

What Are Amber Alerts

When children are abducted, and the incident is reported to the local law enforcement agency, an alert is usually sent out across all forms of communication. The alert is sent to all nearby law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and wireless services. The goal is to get the information of the case out as quickly as possible in order to make more people aware of going on. Hopefully, once this is done someone will see something that can lead to the child being returned to their rightful place sooner.

AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created in 1996 in response to the kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. Between the program’s creation and December of 2015, over 800 children were successfully rescued and returned home thanks to Amber Alerts.

How To Prevent Kidnappings

Having their child kidnapped is something that no parent should ever have to experience. In order to reduce the likelihood of an abduction occurring, parents should:

  • Continually teach kids about how to be safe online.
  • Set boundaries on where the child can go.
  • Keep a close eye on the child when out in public.
  • Never leave kids alone in cars or strollers, even for just a few seconds.
  • Carefully choose babysitters and nannies.
  • Avoid dressing the kids in clothes that have their names on them, since kids tend to trust adults who know their names.

By following these tips, a parent can reduce the chances of their child ever being taken from them. That way, they never have to deal with the nightmare of trying to find a kidnapped child.

Pirating Movies Is A Serious Offense

Pirating Movies Is A Serious Offense

We’ve all seen the FBI warning in front of movies, warning us not to pirate the film and distribute it illegally. For the most part, people ignore the warning simply because they had no intention of doing that. However, there are some people out there who ignore the warning and do that anyway. They figure they won’t get caught and that even if they do, it won’t be that big of a deal.

For one California man, this turned out to not be the case. A 22 year-old man recently found out just how serious the government takes piracy. Back in 2016, the man posted a pirated copy of the movie Deadpool to his social media account. The movie was then viewed over 6 million times, which quickly earned the attention of local authorities.

The man now faces 6 months in jail, and 1 year of probation for the criminal act. This is a very big deal for something that many people view as a “small” crime. However, especially in this instance, this is not a small crime. Over 6 million people watched the movie illegally online, which amounts to a huge loss in profits for the company that made the movie, in this case, 20th Century Fox.

Despite what one might think, pirating movies is a very big deal. It prevents companies, and the people that work for them, from getting the money they worked hard to earn. Due to this fact, the government does take this crime very seriously, as evident by this latest case.

 

Know Where Your Donations Are Going

Know Where Your Donations Are Going

Every once in a while, we comes across something online that just tugs at our heart strings. Then we find out that we can donate some money to help out. We jump at the chance to help out, but before anyone gets too excited, they should make sure the money is actually going where it should.

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who like to take advantage of kindhearted people. These bad people know that they can manipulate good people into donating by claiming the money will be going to help some cause. Anyone can setup a GoFundMe page and request money from strangers.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides some tips for people who are looking to support different charities or causes safely. One of the signs that a charity is probably a scam, is if the charity does not provide detailed information about what the money is going to be used for, then it is probably a scam. Most legitimate charities know what the money they raise will be used for.

Other signs that a charity may be a scam include:

  • The charity’s name is very similar to another prominent charity.
  • The charity tries to pressure you into making a donation without allowing you to think about whether or not you want to do so.
  • The charity asks for cash, gift cards, or wire transfers.
  • Guarantees that you will win a prize from a sweepstakes if you donate.
  • Offers to send someone to get the money from you.

If you are looking at donating some money to a good cause, be sure to do your research. Lookup the charity that you will be donating to, and try searching to see if there have been any scams or complaints about the charity in question. Doing this can help you make an informed and safe donation to a true charity, and not some scammer.

 

What’s In Your Kid’s Halloween Candy?

What’s In Your Kid’s Halloween Candy?

E

very year, as Halloween rolls around, people begin seeing articles about how they can keep their kids safe during the holiday. One of the big topics is being sure to check kids’ Halloween candies for any tampering before allowing them to eat it. Unfortunately, there are people out there who think it’s fun or funny to harm people by messing with their food.

The first step to making sure your child is safe from tampered Halloween candy is to make sure that they don’t eat any of it while they are out trick or treating. Do not let them eat any of the candies until you have been able to examine it under good lighting. Check for damaged wrappers, candy that smells funny, homemade sweets from strangers, or any candy or sweets not in their original packaging.

If a piece of candy doesn’t seem right to you, throw it out. In this instance, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your child’s safety. If you do find any candy that has been clearly tampered with, such as having needles, razors, or glass shards in it, report it right away to the local authorities.

As uncommon as tampering with candy may be, this kind of thing does happen. Recently Australia has been dealing with people putting sewing needles into strawberries. So, check your kids Halloween candy this year just to be safe.