July 2021 — Big Bird Goes Missing and Other Top News in the Security and Risk Industry

By Daniel Young | August 17, 2021 | 8 min read

There’s a lot going on in the world of physical risk and vulnerability; it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest news and developments. We’ll keep you informed with the best content to keep your organization safe and secure. Check out the top news and headlines from the past month.

'Most Wanted' suspect caught after asking about reward money for her arrest on police Facebook post

From ABC News: A woman who was on the run for allegedly being an accessory to a murder in March has been arrested after commenting on the police department’s Facebook post asking about her reward money. The strange ordeal began last Wednesday when the Tulsa Police Department in Oklahoma posted images of Lorraine Graves on Facebook as part of their “Weekly Most Wanted” campaign. Not long after the post went up, authorities saw a familiar name in the comments section: Lorraine Graves. “Where’s the reward money at,” Lorraine Graves can be seen posting after she saw that she was on the “Weekly Most Wanted” list, on a screen shot shared by the Tulsa Police Department. Graves was subsequently arrested the next day.

Our take: We hate to give advice to people who are allegedly involved in crimes, but if the police are looking for you and you’re trying to hide (not a great idea in itself) don’t comment on their social media; police and security will be able to track you down. Or, to quote one of the commenters on that Facebook Post: “Giiiiirl you better stay off social media they can track you !!”

Thieves stole $160,000 costume of Sesame Street's 'Big Bird,' returned it, with apology for being 'such a big birden'

From Insider: A group of thieves who stole a $160,000 costume of Sesame Street's Big Bird returned it a few days later with a note in his beak apologizing. Dubbing themselves the "Big Bird Bandits," the thieves stole the giant yellow avian costume in mid-April from the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular in Adelaide, Australia. "We had no idea what we were doing, or what our actions would cause," the note said. "We were just having a rough time and were trying to cheer ourselfs [sic] up. We had a great time with Mr. Bird, he's a great guy and no harm came to our friend. Sorry to be such a big birden!" Police arrested two suspects in connection to the incident — Tasman Binder, 22, and Cody Milne, 26 — who were charged with theft and unlawfully being on-premises, in late June. Last week, a third and previously unknown suspect was arrested after she was captured on CCTV footage during the theft. All three suspects are scheduled to appear in court later in the year.

Our take: When it comes to assessing risk, people often pay most attention to the probability of a threat, and don’t think so much of a threat’s severity. As the value goes up on an item, or becomes notable, the probability can increase. While we don’t know the particulars of this case, Sesame Workshop probably never thought it would need to secure the Big Bird costume, but once it was stolen, they realized that the costume was a heavy loss. It may have also been an inside job; you don’t like to think your workers would steal (or help someone “borrow” company property) but you don’t know what your workers are going through, or if they may feel the need to run off with a Muppet.

A 60-year-old man died of a heart attack after being swatted over his Twitter handle

From PC Gamer: In April 2020, a 60 year-old man was the victim of a swatting attack. After surrendering to the police surrounding his home, Mark Herring suffered a heart attack and died shortly thereafter. Now a new report has shed light on the circumstances of this incident, and the reasons behind it. Herring had been targeted by minors because of his Twitter handle of @Tennessee, which was considered a valuable handle. He was apparently one of many being targeted in this fashion.

Our take: Swatting is an attack in which perpetrators phone U.S. police forces with false information, hoping to incite an armed response at their victim's location. In many cases, police respond with force, sending SWAT teams out to the location. These attacks, often used in the gaming community — particularly by kids who are gaming online and are listening in on the attack — are dangerous. They eat up valuable police resources, have been responsible for the deaths of family pets, and of course are responsible for several deaths. Although Herring could not have known he would be targeted, there are some things individuals can do to avoid swatting. If you suspect you may be at risk, reach out to your local police department, identify yourself, and ask if they have a plan in place to combat swatting, what will happen if you’re swatted, and what you can do to minimize damage. Also, be aware of children and young adults’ gaming habits and online friends. Lastly, police should be aware that they are potentially being used as a weapon, and conduct outreach to warn the community that this is a potential danger.

Laser pointed at Ohio State Highway Patrol aviation aircraft

From WHIO’s Facebook page: A man was arrested and taken into custody after he was accused of pointing a laser at the pilot of a law enforcement aircraft near Dayton, Ohio.

Our take: You might think something as small as a laser pointer is harmless, but pointing a laser at an aircraft is highly illegal for a reason; it can be very dangerous. For one thing, if you’re pointing a laser at a commercial aircraft, you can cause problems for the pilot. For another, no one in the air knows if your laser is attached to a weapon or not, so you may be putting yourself and your family in danger when law enforcement responds.

Army Ranger Savagely Killed Female Security Guard in Drunken Rampage

From the Daily Beast: Army ranger Patrick Byrne faces murder charges for allegedly beating and choking to death a recently hired security guard during a vicious attack caught on surveillance video in Washington. Police say Byrne had been punched in the face during a bar fight on Saturday night before he made his way to the office building where the victim worked. Officers learned that Byrne had been drinking that night then, at about 1 a.m. Sunday, he appeared at the doors of the office building and barged past the victim when she opened them, likely prompting her to ask him to leave, according to the court documents. Investigators said that security camera footage then appeared to capture Byrne’s roughly 10-minute assault on the security guard, who repeatedly tried to fight back and flee.

Our take: Security guards are our first line of defense, and we need to protect them as much as they protect the organizations they work for. No security officer should be left to work alone; they should always be working in pairs. They should have duress buttons on their belts, not just on their desks. They should have a way to answer a door without opening it to a potential threat. This is a tragedy, and what makes it worse is that it was completely preventable.

July’s Top Security Grants

Evaluation of Citizens Crime Commission’s (CCC) Disruption and Early Engagement Program (DEEP) Initiative: The objective of this effort is to conduct an outcome and impact evaluation of the Citizens Crime Commission (CCC)’s Disruption and Early Engagement Program (DEEP) Initiative. CCC has been piloting an intervention program that ensures individuals considered at-risk for engaging in targeted violence have been demobilized by seeking help from psychologists, community based specialists, and threat assessment experts to identify indicators that could determine a subject’s actual propensity for violence, and planning to resolve threats or vulnerabilities through avenues that don’t necessarily include criminal charges, like mentorship and rehabilitation. The DEEP early engagement initiative aims to intervene with individuals on a pathway to extremist or targeted violence, stopping the violence before it starts. Specifically, the initiative aims to identify and respond to individuals at risk of mobilizing to violence both in the pre-arrest space, and to those convicted of crimes related to terrorism or targeted violence in the reentry space.The DEEP early engagement initiative aims to intervene with individuals on a pathway to extremist or targeted violence, stopping the violence before it starts. Specifically, the initiative aims to identify and respond to individuals at risk of mobilizing to violence both in the pre-arrest space, and to those convicted of crimes related to terrorism or targeted violence in the reentry space. Applications due: August 16

Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security National Training Program (HSNTP) - Continuing Training Grants (CTG): Through its Continuing Training Grants (CTG) program, the Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Homeland Security National Training Program (HSNTP) plays an important role in the National Preparedness System. The CTG program supports building, sustaining, and delivering core capabilities through the development and delivery of training to achieve the National Preparedness Goal (the Goal), which is "a secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.” Applications due: Aug 16, 2021

Limited Competition Emergency Awards: Shared Personal Protective Equipment Resources for COVID-19 Related Vaccine and Treatment Clinical Trials and Clinical Studies: The purpose of this public health emergency funding opportunity is to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to directly support the needs of the NIAIDs vaccine and treatment clinical trials and clinical studies for COVID-19. Applications due: Jul 15, 2022

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