It’s the holiday time again!

This is the time where many of us are busy, with not only everyday things, but with shopping, holiday decorating, parties, and much more.  This is also the time where we need to be careful in protecting our families and homes from burglaries, identity theft, and assault. 

The holidays can be a time where potential criminals use it to their advantage because often times we are distracted and staying vigilant.

Here are a few simple reminders for home and shopping safety during the holiday season.

Home Safety

1.                  Be extra cautious about locking ALL windows and doors when you leave the house, even if you’re gone for only a few minutes.  Also, make sure that your windows and doors are properly bolted for added security.

2.                  Be careful of large displays of holiday gifts visible through windows and doors of your home.  This can be too tempting for “would be” burglars.

3.                  If you’re leaving your home for any extended length of time, have a neighbor, friend, or family member keep an eye on your home and pick up newspapers and mail.

4.                  Have indoor and outdoor lights on an automatic timer.

5.                  If possible, leave a radio or television on to give the appearance of an occupied home.

Shopping Safety

1.                  Try to do your holiday shopping during daylight hours, if possible.  If you have to shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

2.                  Dress comfortably and casually, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

3.                  Try NOT to carry a purse or wallet, if possible.  Always carry your driver’s license or ID card, checks or credit cards that you plan on using for your shopping excursion.  Try to keep these items in a front pocket. 

4.                  Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  Try to pay for purchases with a check or credit card whenever possible.

5.                  If your credit card(s) are lost or stolen, notify the credit card issuer immediately.  Also, if it has been stolen, notify the police and file a report.  Make sure to keep a record of ALL your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.

6.                  ALWAYS stay alert to your surroundings.

7.                  Avoid overloading yourself with packages.  Make sure that you have a clear visibility and are able to move around freely.

8.                  Keep packages out of plain view in your car.  Put them in the trunk or out of plain sight.

9.                  Beware of strangers approaching you for ANY reason.  This time of year where there are many “con artists” that will try to distract your attention to take your belongings or money.

Most of all, have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends.

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Citizens Unite! 

If you are a victim of ANY crime – Report It!

If you’re robbed on the street, someone breaks into your house, or you’ve been swindled – Report It! 

It has been reported from law enforcement agencies that one out of every two crimes goes unreported.  It’s either because victims don’t think that the police can do anything about it or they just don’t want to get involved.

It can’t be stressed enough that if crimes go unreported then the criminals are going to continue to operate without any interference.  Reporting ALL crimes will help law enforcement to assign the appropriate number of officers to troubled locations, and information provided by victims and witnesses can lead to the arrest and prosecution of a criminal. 

Your local law enforcement agency needs your help to fight crime.

1.                  Report ALL crimes to your local police department.

2.                  No fact is too trivial.

3.                  Report ANY and ALL suspicious activities in your neighborhood.

4.                  Get help immediately or call 9-1-1.

5.                  If the crime just occurred or is in progress, call 9-1-1.

6.                  Call a doctor, if necessary.

7.                  Call a friend or family member.

8.                  Try to remember ALL details, such as clothing, hair color, vehicle descriptions, identifiable marks or features, etc.

9.                  Try not to destroy any possible evidence.

10.              Keep important emergency and non-emergency numbers available, such as victim’s services, crime stoppers, police department, vehicle abatement, animal control, etc.

For more information about crime and emergencies, please don’t hesitate to contact your local police department or community service officer.

If you’re interested in starting a neighborhood watch:

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In my novels Compulsion and Dead Game, Emily Stone relentlessly searches down the bad guys.  You could say that she is stalking them in order to bring them to justice.

But what does stalking really mean?

The definition of stalking is the act of following prey stealthily.

Stalking is caused by a chronic obsessive personality.  Anyone can become a victim or a stalker.  It has been estimated that one out of every twelve women will be a victim of a stalker at some point in their lives. 

What happens when someone is stalking another person?  There are stalking laws in place for this type of unwanted attention. 

The California Stalking Law Penal Code Section 646.9  is one of the strongest stalking laws in the country.  No Longer should victims of stalking be turned away by law enforcement and told, “come back when he actually hurts you.”  From 1991 through 1993, stalking was a misdemeanor punishable by only one year in county jail when no restraining order was in place.  Under the current law, a first-time stalker can be sentenced to a felony charge and sentenced to State Prison for up to three years.  If a court or restraining order is in effect, the stalker can be sentenced up to four years in prison or if he has previously been convicted of felony stalking or other related crimes, he could face up to five years in prison.

I’ve had first hand experience of being stalked by someone and it was a life altering experience for me.  I lived next door to a violent sociopath for 2 ½ years that threatened my life weekly, sometimes daily.  The good news is that I turned that unfortunate situation into a positive one by using my experience, or inspiration for lack of a better description, in my fictional writing and that’s how Compulsion came to life.  The bad news was that I had to move and this person continued to stalk me at work and even found my new residence.  Everything finally worked out.  I’m safe now and this person went to jail for a crime of aggravated assault on someone he knew, but unfortunately he’s out free again.

I wanted to share some stalker warning signs.

Stalkers usually have two or more of these personality traits:

1.                  Impulsive

2.                  Obsessive

3.                  Selfish

4.                  Won’t take “NO” for an answer.

5.                  Has few friends.

6.                  Low self-esteem.

In my situation, this person was also highly intelligent, clever, had violent tendencies, had one or two so-called friends that would follow his orders, and he felt that everyone had “wronged” him in some way.

The best approach to stop a stalker is to nip it in the bud, but this isn’t always the simplest approach.

What you can do to STOP the stalker:

1.                  NEVER let the stalker know that he’s having any effect on you.  I know this doesn’t sound easy, but it’s important.

2.                  Make sure you have a Caller ID on your phone.

3.                  If you’re being harassed by phone, make sure that it’s connected to a recorder to gather evidence.  Get a second line (unlisted) for your trusted friends or use a cell phone.

4.                  Have friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers help to shield you.

5.                  Get a camera cell phone (most cell phones have this feature now) and document everything and every encounter with this person.

6.                  Change your schedule to make it more difficult to follow you.

7.                  Drive around the block a couple of times before returning home.  If you are being followed or threatened drive straight to a police station.  Never confront this person alone.

8.                  Plan an escape route in case your stalker enters your home, follows you on foot, or follows you in the car.  It’s important to plan out what you would do in an escape and don’t let anxiety and fear cloud your judgment.

9.                  Find out all your options with restraining orders.  Talk to your local police department and file a report.  Law enforcement is there to help us.  From my own personal experience, the police were helpful and supportive of my situation. 

10.              Contact an attorney or your local police department for more information.

Be safe and alert at ALL times.  Don’t feel like you have to suffer through this alone.  Tell friends, family, and law enforcement.

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When should you call 9-1-1?

You should call 9-1-1 when any life or property is endangered, suspicious activity, or a crime in progress. 

Be observant and calm so that you can describe the 5 “W”s to the police or dispatcher.

1.                  Who – person(s) involved

2.                  What – the incident or what’s happening

3.                  When – the time it occurred

4.                  Where – the location or address

5.                  Weapons – the type(s) and quantity used

Try and remember these three areas if possible when describing a crime or suspicious activity.  Write down this information on a piece of paper while it’s still fresh in your mind.  It can be easy to forget some important details because of being scared, excited, sidetracked, or overwhelmed.

  • Perpetrator

Think about the person from top to bottom: gender, race, hair color and length, eye color, height, weight, age, unique specifics (scars, tattoos, glasses, hat, etc.), and clothing type.

  • Vehicle

Take a good look at the car involved: color, year, make/model, body style (2 or 4 door, pick up, hatchback), and unique specifics (dents, bumper stickers, different color body parts, etc.).

  • Direction of travel

Note the direction of travel.  This can be extremely important for the police and they may be able to catch the perpetrator immediately based on this information.

Be sure to have your local emergency numbers available for quick and easy access for your entire family. 

Talk to your children about these types of emergencies and prepare them to call the police if necessary with the guidelines listed above.

For more information about crime and emergencies, please don’t hesitate to contact your local police department or community service officer.

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Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting

Emily wanted me to talk about a safety issue that many people have expressed their recent concerns – home security and what to do to keep your family and home safe from burglaries or home invasions.

There are two important aspects to remember for home security against potential break-ins: secure you home with proper hardware and electronics, and make sure that your entire family ALWAYS uses them correctly.  Follow these simple guidelines with no exceptions.

Remember, if you come home and your house has been broken into, DO NOT GO INSIDE.  Call the police immediately and wait for them to arrive, away from the residence or at a neighbor’s house. 

There are 4 basic types of burglars and home invaders:

1.                  Professionals – these are the most sophisticated type of burglars or “cat burglars” and they generally are interested in businesses or extremely wealthy homes.

2.                  Opportunists – these are generally juvenile delinquents and pose a medium amount of danger.

3.                  Thrill-Seekers – these are also generally juvenile delinquents and pose a medium amount of danger. A higher danger potential are gang members, voyeurs, rapists, and murderers.

4.                  Drug Addicts – these are unskilled, unpredictable, individuals usually high on drugs.  Basically, these types of individuals commit up to 90 percent of all burglaries and home invasions.  Since they are desperate, irrational and prone to violence, they are very dangerous.

What simple precautions can you do to protect you and your family from being a victim of burglary or home invasions?

1.                  Install door reinforcements.

2.                  Install window reinforcements.

3.                  Install garage and yard reinforcements.

4.                  Install simple home electronics.

5.                  Install an alarm system.

6.                  Good neighbors:  know your neighbors and watch out for one another.

7.                  Join or start a Neighborhood Watch Group.

These are simple preventative measures to keep in mind when you’re home:

1.                  Keep your windows and doors locked.  About half of all home invasions happen because of unlocked doors or windows.  If you’re outdoors gardening or at a neighbor’s house, remember to lock your door and carry a key with you.  Be careful where you hide a house key and don’t make it obvious.

2.                  Never blindly open the door when someone knocks or rings the doorbell.  This can be a burglar practice called a “push in”.

3.                  Avoid a “scam in” and never open the door to a stranger no matter what they say.  These types of scam artists are master manipulators.

Pay attention to what goes on in your neighborhood.  If you see anything that looks suspicious or looks out of place, report it to the local police immediately.

Be sure to talk to your children about home safety strategies and implement them into your daily routine.

For more information on how to keep your home and family safe from break-ins or home invasions, contact your local law enforcement agency or security specialist.  

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Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting

Many of us take advantage of enjoying our local parks and beaches, especially this time of year when the weather is still nice and warm.  It’s a great place to just relax or enjoy regular exercise, such as walking and jogging. 

Living in California, I love to take advantage of all the wonderful parks and beaches whenever I can.  It’s a great place for me to relax and take a break from my writing.  Sometimes, I get my best story ideas walking at the beach with my dogs.  However, I am still aware of my surroundings, even as I enjoy the great outdoors and beautiful scenery.

Emily Stone, the heroine in my novels Compulsion and Dead Game, is dedicated to public safety, suggests the following tips to stay safe for the park and beach enthusiast:

1.                  Remember, there is always safety in numbers.  It is recommended that you walk or run with a friend.  For me, I have a large, trained, black dog that accompanies me when I’m alone and he has deterred a couple of individuals from possibly making me a potential crime victim in the past. 

 2.                  Don’t take shortcuts or dirt paths through wooded areas.

3.                  Stay on well-lit and populated path areas.

4.                  Remain alert and aware at all times.  As fun as it is to wear headphones with your favorite music, if you are alone don’t wear them, it can distract you from your surroundings.

5.                  Familiarize yourself with your local park or beach and know where the public phones or police call boxes are located, even if you have your personal cell phone with you.  It’s always a good idea to know where these emergency phones are located.

6.                  Know the locations of any stores or businesses that may be open in the vicinity of the park or beach.  These types of locations may be a safe place to go if you feel threatened or need assistance.

7.                  Don’t wear an excessive amount of jewelry because this will make you stand out.

8.                  Closely supervise children and instruct them how to response to strangers.

9.                  If someone attempts to verbally harass you, keep walking and continue to a populated area or business.  If you do respond to this type of behavior, it could escalate the situation.  It’s always better to be cautious and find a safe, populated location. 

10.              ALWAYS report suspicious persons or activities to the local police.  Remember to dial “911” for emergency police or medical services.

If you happen to become a victim of a crime at the park, beach, or anywhere for that matter, the police recommend the following:

1.                  Remain calm.

2.                  Don’t make any quick or sudden movements.

3.                  Don’t be a hero.  No amount of money or personal property is worth your life.

4.                  Be observant.  Try to remember everything you can about the criminal: sex, age, race, clothing, height, weight, and anything that would help to identify the criminal.

5.                  Call the police immediately after the incident.

Crime in parks and at the beach isn’t commonplace, but it’s always important to remember these simple tips and to be prepared just in case of an emergency. 

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Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting

It’s true that you can deter a potentially dangerous situation by just being aware and conscious of your surroundings.  Try to read between the lines.  I’ve actually practiced this a few times.  I find that if you’re confident, aware, focused, use appropriate eye contact, and don’t show any fear, you’re ten times more likely to avoid being targeted as a victim or get caught up in something uncertain. 

There are many books available that talk about how to use your survival signals to help protect us from violence.  I wanted to share some highlights that I found interesting.  I can’t express enough that we need to pay attention to that “inner voice” alerting you to something that doesn’t appear or feel right.  Of course, this isn’t always a potentially dangerous situation.  It can be an uncomfortable or a high stress situation.   

There are many messengers of intuition that are worth your attention.  Stop and acknowledge them, think about what’s behind these feelings.





Gut feelings





Persistent thoughts

Nagging feelings

According to the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, there are seven survival signals we need to be aware of when placed in uncertain, new, or potentially dangerous situations.  Learn to look between the actions and pay close attention to your intuitions when confronted.

Forced Teaming

This technique is an effective way to manipulate a situation of premature trust, such as “we’re in the same boat”.  The detectable signal of “forced teaming” is the projection of a shared experience.

Charm & Niceness

Think of charm, such as rapport, is having a motive.  Now the difference between “charm” and “charming”, it can be a bit deceiving.  Look behind the person’s charm.  Most of the time it will be harmless, but other times there can be a manipulation beneath it.   

Too Many Details

It has been studied that when someone wants to deceive you, they give you too many details.  Commonly, when people are telling the truth, they don’t feel a need for extra details of a situation.


This involves a slight insult to warrant an easy refute.  For example, a man stops a woman and says to her “You’re probably too snobbish to talk to me”, hoping to get a rebuttal response.  A potential rapist or mugger to avert your attention from the situation could use this technique. 

Loan Sharking

This is classic example of someone using this technique that you owe them something, which makes it difficult to ask them to leave you alone.  Criminals use this technique as the kindly stranger.  Be aware and read between the intentions.

Unsolicited Promise

This is one of the most reliable signals where a stranger makes a promise and most likely has a questionable motive.  Take a good look at the situation. 

 Discounting the Word “No” 

This is a fairly self-explanatory technique to observe.  If someone doesn’t take “no” for answer, there is most likely another motivation.  

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Crime Watch Blog:
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Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting