Auto Theft or just Joy Riding – you decide!

The Washington State Legislature has determined that “A person is guilty of theft of a motor vehicle if he or she commits theft of a motor vehicle” Theft of a motor vehicle is a class B felony.

Why are we reading about Auto Theft?

  1. Automobiles are an essential part of our everyday lives!
  2. The West Coast is the only region of the United States with an increase of over three percent in motor vehicle thefts over the last several years. (2007)
  3. The family car is a priority of most individuals and families.
  4. The family car is typically the second largest investment a person has next to the home, so when a car is stolen, it causes a significant loss and inconvenience to people, imposes financial hardship, and negatively impact their work, school and personal activities.

Is it really that big a problem?  You be the judge!

  1. In Washington, more than one car is stolen every eleven minutes, one hundred and thirty-eight cars are stolen every day.
  2. Someone’s car has a one in one hundred seventy-nine chances of being stolen
  3. More vehicles were stolen in 2005 than in any previous year.
  4. Since 1994 auto theft has increased over fifty-five percent.
  5. The national crime insurance bureau reports that Seattle and Tacoma ranked in the top ten places for the most auto thefts, ninth and tenth respectively in 2004.l
  6. In 2005 over fifty thousand auto thefts were reported costing Washington citizens more than three hundred twenty-five million dollars in higher insurance rates and lost vehicles.
  7. Juveniles account for over half of he reported auto thefts with many of these thefts being their first criminal offence.

Hopefully your eyes are now open, but, keep in mind that these statistics from the internet (Washington State Legislature) are about fifteen years old.  A great deal has happened since then.  One important thing is the price of vehicle has increased tremendously.  Registration costs have gone up, cost of fuel has gone up, cost of insurance has gone up and sadly auto theft rates continue to climb.

Citizens who have not been a victim of auto theft and suffered the loss of their car even for a few days fail to realize that very few stolen cars are returned to the victim in the condition they were in when stolen.  Tires are flat, body damage very common and generally they have suffered some vandalism.  Naturally the insurance company will take care of it.  Possibly, but it will never be returned to the condition it was when stolen.  What out of pocket expenses did you experience due to the theft?  Renting a car? Paying for the impound and storage fees (cash or credit card) if the vehicle was found quickly.   These out of pocket expenses go on an on.  We have not even considered the costs and inconvenience of having to go to court IF the crook is apprehended!  Now, just consider this, your car was five years old, its has depreciated in value but is still your family car.  When stolen it was wrecked (totaled), you will need to find another vehicle.  Are you going to find something as good as your old car with the allowance the insurance company is offering you?  Are you going to have to retain an attorney?   Prices of used cars have gone up!

Enough already!!!!!

What is the answer?   As much as I hate to say this, the answer is up to you.  How do you protect your home from burglary?

There are several things you can do to prevent auto theft, but each will take some due diligence on your part.

Let’s keep this short and sweet!

  1. LOCK YOUR CAR, EVERY TIME YOU PARK IT!
  2. PARK IN A WELL LIGHTED LOT NOT IN A DARK ALLEY.
  3. PARK WHERE YOUR VEHICLE IS VISABLE TO OTHERS.
  4. NEVER LEAVE YOUR KEYS IN THE CAR.
  5. NEVER LEAVE YOUR WINDOWS DOWN
  6. REPORT SUSPICIOUS PERSONS IN THE AREA (immediately, not next week)

Will this stop Auto Theft?   NO!

Will this make a difference?  Possibly!

What are the chances of my car being recovered?  Very good, a high percentage of stolen cars are recovered in the first several weeks but you can only bet on it in Las Vegas!

Please follow www.jeffersoncountysheriffsfoundation.org  for further information on how to protect your property from theft.

Doug Henderson
President, Jefferson County Sheriffs Foundation
San Diego Police Department
Retired Sgt. San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

Washington Driver Safety Information

The Jefferson County Sheriffs Foundation, would like to remind you how important it is to always drive responsibly and use good common sense judgment while operating a motor vehicle.

Please use this information to remind yourself on the rules of the road and how to safely operate a motor vehicle and help ensure a lifetime of safe driving for you, your family, friends and neighbors.

Everyone can do their part to help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by auto collisions by always wearing your seatbelt, never driving while intoxicated with alcohol and drugs, and avoiding distractions like texting and other cell phone usages while operating a motor vehicle.

DRIVING RISKS

Your safety while operating a motor vehicle can depend on what you do before you put the car in drive.  Always adjust the seat, mirrors, secure any lose items that maybe lying on the dash or seat and put on the seatbelt.

There are three components to risk while driving: the driver, the vehicle, and the roadway environment.  Driving safely can reduce any risk that may be present. The more risk factors that are present, the more likely it will be that you may be involved in a collision. Keeping your vehicle in good operating order, using the seatbelt and not driving while intoxicated or distracted will help you in reducing risks.

SAFE DRIVING TIPS

Distracted Driving: This is very important to any driver or passenger in a vehicle. Distracted driving is any activity that takes a person’s attention away from the primary task of operating a motor vehicle. Any distraction can endanger the driver, their passengers, pedestrians and other vehicles sharing the roadway. Hear are some types of distractions while operating a motor vehicle to avoid.

  • Texting
  • Using a cell or smart phone
  • Eating, drinking or taking medication
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming yourself or animals
  • Reading books, news papers, mail, maps, directions, and work material
  • Watching a video or playing games
  • Adjusting vehicle controls
  • Holding small animals on your lap

Texting or talking on a cell phone is especially dangerous and could get you an expensive ticket. It is against the law to use an electronic wireless device to read, send, or write a text message. It is also against the law to hold a wireless communications device to your ear or hold in your hand.  A “Hands free” device is an acceptable alternative and is defined as a wireless communications device with a speakerphone, headset or earpiece,

Drinking and Driving: Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is a major causing reason in traffic collisions in which many driver, passengers, pedestrians and other innocent people are seriously injured or killed. If you drink or take prescription medications or drugs, your chances of being in a serious collision are much greater. No one can drink alcohol, take prescription medication or use drugs and drive safely, regardless of how much experience they have driving a motor vehicle.

Marijuana: Marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving tasks and on driving courses for up to 5 hours. It has been reported that using marijuana can decrease car handling performance, cause slower reaction times, impaired time and distance estimation, cause an inability to maintain headway, subjective sleepiness, affect motor coordination, and impair the ability to clearly focus on what is going on around you.

Other Drugs: Like alcohol and marijuana, many other drugs can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. These other types if drugs can effects like those of alcohol or even use..

Always check with your health provider before operating a motor vehicle when using prescribed medications.

Always use a designated driver to ensure that you, your family and friends get home safely.

Insurance: If you operate a vehicle that is registered in Washington, you must have liability insurance and must carry proof of the insurance with you.

Check the vehicle: It is the duty of drivers to make sure that the vehicle they are driving is safe to operate. A vehicle that is not in good working order creates risk, could be unsafe, could break down or cause a collision. A vehicle in good working order can give you an extra safety margin if you should need it.

Braking system: It is very dangerous to operate a motor vehicle if the brakes are worn or not working properly.

Lights: Rarely does anyone check the lights on their vehicles. Every driver and vehicle owner should practice checking the turn signals, brake lights, tail lights and headlights on a regular basis to ensure they are working properly. Visibility to see what is ahead and being seen by other drivers is very important.

Windshield: A damaged or cracked windshield can easily break in any type of collision or when is struck from inside or outside object.

Windshield Wipers: Windshield wipers keep the rain, snow and dust, off of the windshield to ensure clear visibility. Make sure your vehicle wipers are checked regularly.

Windshield fog or frozen: Please make sure your windshield is completely defrosted before you leave your driveway.

Tires: Worn or bald tires can increase a vehicle’s stopping distance and make turning more difficult when the road is wet or icy. Worn tires can cause hydroplaning and increase your chance of getting a flat tire.

Steering  system: If the vehicles steering is not working properly, it could be difficult to control the vehicle in the direction you want to go or in attempting to avoid objects in the roadway.

Engine: A poor running engine could lose power while you are in the middle of the freeway or any other type of roadway. A properly maintained engine is needed for normal driving to ensure you arrive safely at your destination. A poorly maintained engine may unexpectedly lose power and causing a traffic jam, may not re-start and cause poor fuel economy.

Horn: The horn is an important item for any vehicle, but should only be used as a warning device to others. Excessive use of the horn could get you a ticket.

Loose objects: Unsecured objects, such as groceries, luggage and animals can become dangerous to a driver, or even cause a collision. Take the time to ensure all objects lying on the seats or floorboard are secured so they dot not interfere with your hand and foot operations of the vehicle or cause you to be distracted.

Please do your part to keep our roadways safe and protect yourself, your family, friends and neighbors. Do your part: Slow down, Always drive sober and please do not text and drive.


Article on Washington Driver Safety Information written by the infamous Ken Przygocki

The following pages of Traffic Safety Information are based on the life and experiences of one of the worlds finest Traffic Officers. Ken Przygocki started out as a child! He grew up and was first exposed to Law Enforcement with the Detroit Police Department. Later in his career he transferred his knowledge and skills in Accident Investigation to the Washington State Patrol. Now that he is finally retired he has very generously offered his services and knowledge/experience to teaching the residents of our community the finer points of traffic safety. Listen my children and you shall hear of the graveyard shift of Ken Przygocki (pronounced just like it sounds).

HISTORY OF TRAFFIC SAFETY

TRAFFIC  RADAR ENFORCEMENT

Since the invention of RADAR in the late 1930’s it has been used for a great many different purposes, the military uses radar in some way or other every day, commercial airlines, private aviation  and nearly any function requiring a high degree of accuracy when measuring speed and distance.

Radar has been used in law enforcement for many years primarily in speed enforcement.  It can be safer to use in some cases since it does not require pursuit, pacing and stopping in unsafe locations.  It can accurately record speeds to confirm complaints by citizens and document areas that need review for possible design problems with the roadway.

Radar is really an extremely complicated simple device.  Complicated because most folks including those who use it are not aware of exactly how it works.  For purposes if this document we will try to keep it simple.  A radar emits a beam (star trek) out into space until something (a car) is caught in the beam which is then reflected back to the radar unit.  This electronic marvel then calculates exactly how fast that car is going and displays the result on a small screen.

I know that many of you have seen the pictures of a police officer sitting in his car with his wife’s hair dryer sticking out the window, don’t knock it, it works but does not tell anyone the speed and will not even dry your hair unless plugged in.

Why do we use radar?

We have all heard that speed kills, that is true.  A car hitting a solid object at 40 mph will kill the occupants of the vehicle in 4/10 of a second.  At 80 mph it still takes the human body 4/10 of a second to die.

It would be more accurate to say that traffic violations of all kinds cause accidents and the damage and/or injuries caused are primarily the result of speed.  The higher the speed the more severe the injuries.

Speed is regulated due to several factors; the design of the roadway, the width, surface, line of sight, curvature and existing hazards.  Another prime factor is the reasonableness of those persons driving on the roadway.

One of the factors governing speed is called the 85th Percentile.  This means the actual measured speed that is driven by 85% of the drivers who are assumed to be reasonable and prudent.  Other factors such as school zones, residential and commercial areas are set by regulation just like freeways are set for certain limits.

No, that does not mean you can get all your neighbors together and drive 50 mph up and down your residential street to get the limit raised.

In this day and age radar has become a great deterrent to speed.  It will not stop you or cite you but just a radar unit sitting on the side of the road telling you how fast you are going is a great aid but usually for those drivers who are not paying attention to their driving or speed.

Enforcement

There are two basic systems of traffic enforcement POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.

Let’s consider a scenario.  A driver is driving on a semi-rural residential road posted at 25 mph.  A Deputy observes him driving at a speed that the deputy feels is a bit fast for the area and roadway.  It is raining lightly, a school bus passed about five minutes before going the same direction, there are many curves in the road and the driver is turning his head to the right conversing with his passenger.

The deputy confirms that the driver is driving 35 mph in the 25 mph zone in inclement weather and there could be school children further up the road being dropped off.

He activates his lights and follows the car for a half mile before the driver recognizes he is being stopped and pulls over.

When the Deputy advises the driver he was driving 35 mph in a 25 mph zone the driver adamantly denies doing so.  When the deputy advises the violation was recorded by radar, whoops!  Two chances that the radar doesn’t work properly, slim and none.

Now comes the POSITIVE or NEGATIVE enforcement decision.

What are the chances that the driver will benefit from this contact?  What is his past record, what is his attitude, was there an accident, near accident, did he lose control, his wife has been reading him the riot act for the last five minutes.

Writing a citation is Negative Enforcement.  Warning the driver is Positive Enforcement.  What is best for the community?

Whether or not a citizen is given a citation is primarily left to the judgement of the officer.

If for instance the citizen is rude and offensive, this does not mean that the officer is offended by these actions but if he cannot get through to the citizen the need to modify his/her behavior and driving skills, maybe that is best handled by a judge.

The vast majority of officers if asked will recommend that when stopped the driver and occupants of the vehicle just be themselves listen carefully and above all be courteous and polite.  The officer is not a judge he is merely documenting a violation that could be heard in a court of law.

SAFE DRIVING TIPS

The vast majority of police officers are above average drivers.  Consider the reasons for this; they drive under all conditions both day and night, regardless of weather, traffic and hazards.

While every minute of every day is not filled with danger they do very frequently go from one extreme, complete boredom to emergency response to many very dangerous situations in seconds.  There is a tremendous adrenaline rush in some cases especially when a child is involved.

Their first objective is always to get there safely,

Where is ‘There’.  Even though they spend many hours memorizing the names and locations of streets and common locations it could be the first time they have worked this beat.

Regular patrolling vs Emergency Response

Is there a difference?

Not Really!

Whether on routine patrol or in response to an emergency you still have to get there, alive.  The route must be planned out, are shortcuts really shortcuts (not really)?

When learning to drive most of you were taught to drive a distance ahead of your vehicle, meaning that you should be looking for hazards, traffic, pedestrians a block or so down the street.

Police Officers were taught the same basic technique except they were taught to think a quarter mile, half mile or even two or three miles ahead of them,  Where are the dangerous corners, blind intersections, commercial businesses with numerous customers coming and going, taverns with possibly intoxicated drivers coming and going.  These situations are those considered constantly while pushing that iron horse.  Where to the deer frequently cross?  What are the favorite roads for cyclists?

CONCENTRATION

Most of you have experienced a period of time while driving that took your complete concentration and attention and even then you were not completely comfortable.

Let’s consider an officer in a patrol car with both front windows down so he/she can hear better, listening to a radio, many of which have multiple frequencies and then in addition to all the regular knobs and buttons they put in cars you also have a whole bunch more for emergency lights, flashing warning lights, siren (some with three or four different sounds) a computer, your brief case loaded with forms, a ticket book, Clip board, your lunch, thermos bottle, jacket, first aid kit, axe, rope, flares, traffic cones, fire extinguisher and a shovel.

There are many things to consider whether on routine patrol or when responding to a call and all require concentration and your undivided attention directed toward you’re driving and the safety of all around you.  Will that slow driver in front of you panic and stop right in the middle of the road right in front of you?  It happens, far too frequently!  Dogs, cats, deer, and kids they all run out into the street at the most inopportune times.

Why am I telling you these things?  Because this is how safe emergency responders learn.  The Field Training Officers are constantly putting them through these scenarios instilling the knowledge that makes them better and safer drivers.

Do you as a licensed driver need to know all this stuff?  If it makes you a better driver, why not!  A fifty percent improvement in situational awareness will increase your personal safety factor tremendously but it is work, it takes practice and repetition.

The life you save with your knowledge may be that of a member of your family.

You may have noticed by now that I have not made any reference to all the laws governing the operation of a motor vehicle on a street or highway.  Why?  Because you already know that material, you passed the test to get your driver’s license and more than likely have driven for a period of time.  This experience in itself makes a great many people think that they are the world’s greatest and safest drivers.  If that is true, why did over thirty thousand of our citizens die in traffic accidents last year and hundreds of thousands more suffer injuries? The deaths alone are more than the entire population of Jefferson County.

The vast majority of the drivers in this country know what a speed limit sign means, just like they know to stop for a stop sign.  This brings up an interesting point.  What does the word STOP really mean?  Last time I checked STOP meant a complete absence of motion.  It is a time for reflection, is there any traffic coming from the left?  Is there any traffic coming from the right?  Are there any pedestrians on the sidewalk at the corner?  Can I see an adequate distance both left and right to determine if a car, bicyclist, pedestrian is approaching?  One last look to the left and another to the right and pull out safely.

Failure to stop for a stop sign is probably the most commonly violated traffic law in existence.  Most stop sign violations are for speeds of 5 to 10 mph as they pass the stop sign and the majority of the drivers freely admit to not making a COMPLETE STOP.  It is a hazardous violation good for one point on your driver’s license for three years.

What is CO-EFFICIENT OF FRICTION and why do I have to remember this?

Some of you have had this experience during your driving lives.  You are driving on a wet street or icy snow covered street and you put on the brakes and the car does not slow down, you turn the steering wheel and the car continues to go straight. Humm?

There is a direct relation between the surface of the roadway and the tires on the car commonly referred to as the co-efficient of friction.  If the roadway is nice new concrete or asphalt and your tires are in good shape the car should come to a stop when you apply the brakes.  The smoother the surface of the road, ice, snow, sand, oil, etc. the more slippery it is and the lower the co-efficient of friction.  I know, slicks on race cars are bald and the track smooth and they have lots of friction when accelerating.  Very high co-efficient of friction but then they are unsafe for use on streets and highways!

Good clean well maintained dry streets and highways with good tires on your car will give you a co-efficient of friction of about a .07  if the street is wet it could go down to a .05.  Wet streets, slow down.

Cruise Control in the rain?

Do NOT use cruise control in the rain.  If the tires loose traction the cruise control system may try to override the lack of traction and accelerate causing a loss of control.

Rear View Mirrors are not for applying makeup while driving.

CHECK LIST

  1. Adjust your seat.  Your left leg when straightened should allow you to position your left foot flat on the floor and slightly push your fanny back into the seat.  Your left foot on the floor will keep you firmly in the seat in the event of sudden movement. Place your hands on the steering wheel in the ten o’clock and two o’clock positions.
  2. Adjust your rear view mirror, again.  Sometimes they sneak into different positions on their own.
  3. Check and adjust your side view mirrors, both sides, you should be able to see a little bit of the sides of your car and clearly to the rear.  Don’t move around while you are adjusting them.
  4. Check all around your car, front, sides and rear for loose kids, dogs, Sasquatch or bicycles.
  5.  Make sure the cell phone is turned off!
  6. Start the car.
  7. After you have backed out of the garage or are getting ready to merge with traffic.  Think; let’s try driving today as though you have a hard-boiled egg between your right foot and the accelerator pedal, nice and smooth.  Maybe tomorrow we will try a raw egg!

REMEMBER

Driving is a privilege NOT a right!

Will reading these few pages make you a better driver? NO!

Will thinking and applying some of the techniques discussed and a few of the tips help you to become a better driver? YES!

But you must practice all of them diligently and apply your concentration and attention to the job at hand, controlling a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds in a safe manner not only for you but also for all the others using our streets and roadways.

Is this all there is to it? NO!

Emergency responders constantly evaluate their abilities and look for ways to improve their skills.  Some learn and practice techniques on a Skid Pan of soapy water or sand and gravel, learn how to make those crazy turns that they do on TV and actually drive on a race track.  Not all officers have the desires to take their driving skills that far but those that do, try to teach what they have learned to those just starting out.

Stay tuned for the next chapter!

Doug Henderson, Retired Sergeant
San Diego Police Department
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Foundation a Community Partnership

JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S FOUNDATION

www.jeffersoncountysheriffsfoundation.org

For some time now various concerns regarding incidents of crime have been discussed on NextDoor. These concerns are common in all neighborhoods but become extremely frustrating for both citizens and law enforcement due to the seeming lack of communications. The following information is offered in an attempt to clarify some of the problems and give the citizens of our community (all of the unincorporated area) of Jefferson County a basic reference source for many of the areas of concern.

Law Enforcement in Jefferson County (unincorporated) is provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office under the Elected Sheriff David Stanko.  Port Townsend, an incorporated city) has its own Police Department. Traffic Enforcement on State Highways is provided by the Washington State Patrol.