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Thurston County, Washington

The content on the Thurston County website is currently provided in English. We are providing the “Translation” for approximately 10 languages. The goal of the translation is to provide visitors with limited English proficiency to access information on the website in other languages. The translations do not translate all types of documents, and it may not give you an exact translation all the time. The translations are made through an automated process, which may not result in accurate or precise translations, particularly of technical and legal terminology.


To help protect your vehicle, please review the following information.

More than one million cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and trailers are stolen every year. There were over 1.2 million thefts of vehicle contents and almost 1.3 million thefts of accessories from motor vehicles in 1983. The recovery rate for stolen vehicles was 54 percent in the early 1980s compared to 90 percent in the 1960s.

Take the following steps to help protect your property:

  • Park in a well lit area when possible. Avoid leaving your car, truck, or motorcycle in unattended parking lots for long periods of time.
  • Keep your keys in your pocket or purse, not in your desk drawer or locker. Never put an identification tag on your key ring. If your keys are lost or stolen, it could help a thief locate your car or burglarize your home.
  • Lock the car and pocket the key whether you leave for a minute or several hours. Make sure the windows are closed and the trunk is locked. This includes vehicles parked inside your garage; we frequently see reports where vehicles thought to be secured inside a garage are prowled.
  • Do not leave important identification papers in the glove compartment or console.
  • If you have to leave a key with repair shop or a parking lot attendant, leave only the ignition key. It takes very little time to copy a key, and a key to your house, combined with your address information from the vehicle registration, can lead to residential burglaries.

What is a VIN?

Since 1969, the federal government has required manufacturers to engrave a unique number, the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), on all passenger cars in one visible and several hidden locations. One VIN is engraved on a metal plate on the dashboard near the windshield. When a car is reported stolen, police send its VIN to the FBI's computerized National Crime Information Center.

Make sure your car's VIN and a complete description are recorded and kept in a safe place at home.

When you are buying a new or used car, check the VIN plate and make sure it matches the VIN on the ownership papers.

Special Tips to Protect Bicycles, Motorcycles, and Trail Bikes

  • Mark the vehicle with an identification number recommended by your local law enforcement agency. Your driver's license number, preceded by the two-letter state code that issued the license, is a good choice.
  • Park out of sight in a garage or basement, or use a cover.
  • Always lock your bicycle with a case-hardened chain or cable and lock, winding the cable through the frame and both wheels and then around a fixed object.
  • Watch out for key numbers. Some motorcycle manufacturers stamp the key number on the lock. With this number, anyone can go to a key maker and have a key cut that will fit perfectly. Many key makers do ask for identification, but don't take any chances. Write down your key number and then file it off the lock.
  • Use the fork lock found on most street motorcycles. For extra protection, invest in a heavy U-shaped lock made of extremely hard steel that cannot be hacksawed, or use case-hardened chain and a sturdy padlock.

Special Tips to Protect Trucks and Recreational Vehicles

  • Many specialized vehicles don't have VINs and should be marked with an identification number, such as a driver's license number.
  • Lock up all easy-to-carry items like outboard motors and camping gear before leaving your vehicle.
  • Use secured "toppers" or tool boxes. Don't assume a thief cannot lift a box because it is heavy.

What To Do If It Happens To You

If your car, truck, or bike is stolen or tampered with, report it to the local Police or Sheriff's Office immediately. Stolen vehicles are often used in other crimes. Quick action can not only help recover your vehicle but may also prevent its use for illegal purposes.

How to Avoid Buying a Stolen Vehicle

  • Look for the VIN and compare it to the VIN on the ownership documents.
  • Ask the seller about the vehicle's history and past financing and insurance. Check this information out with the bank or insurance company.
  • Be wary when purchasing used parts for auto repairs. A price that sounds too good to be true might mean that you're indirectly encouraging theft by buying from a "chop shop," a place that purchases stolen cars and dismantles them in order to sell the parts.

For information about traffic safety, visit the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission website.

The Purpose of Business Watch

To help establish a sense of community awareness among business proprietors in an effort to prevent crimes against businesses.

Goals of Business Watch:

  • Improve communication between business proprietors and the police
  • Provide education and information to business proprietors to help reduce crime in targeted areas
  • Preserve and reclaim our business centers and eliminate conditions that give rise to crime
  • Encourage business owners to utilize security measures to the fullest extent in order to deter crime
  • Solicit information and ideas from the public which would increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Business Watch Program

The Sheriff's Department Community Outreach Unit provides these free services

Training for businesses on the following subjects:

  • Shoplifting
  • Armed Robbery / Robbery Prevention
  • Counterfeit Bill and Counterfeit Identification Recognition
  • Check and Credit Card Fraud and Forgery
  • Commercial Burglary / Burglary Prevention

The Community Outreach Unit will conduct a security survey of your business to see if there are areas that can be targeted to make the business more secure. A Sheriff's Office representative will come to your business to look over your locks, windows, security system, etc., and make recommendations that will enhance the security of your business. The Department also provides program stickers to advertise community awareness.

Have you updated your business emergency contact information? If your business door was found unlocked in the middle of the night, would we know who to call? If you have not updated your emergency contact information recently, please update your premise information using this link:

For more information on the general topic of crime prevention, visit these websites:

National Crime Prevention Council   and   National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Contact your Community Outreach Deputy for information regarding the National Night Out.

Residents in neighborhoods across Thurston County are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the "National Night Out" (NNO) crime/drug prevention event. National Night Out, which is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) and co-sponsored locally by the Sheriff's Office, will involve over 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases around the world. In all, over 32 million people are expected to participate in "American's Night Out Against Crime."

National Night Out is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police community partnerships
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organize and fighting back

On event day residents in neighborhoods throughout Thurston County and across the nation are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights, and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. Many neighborhoods throughout the county will be hosting a variety of special events such as block parties, cookouts, visits from police, and youth activities.

We would like you and your neighborhood to join forces with neighborhoods nationwide and Give Crime and Drugs a Going Away Party! To register your function with the Community Outreach Unit contact us by email to sign up.

Click here to access the National Night Out official website for more information.

For more on the topic of crime prevention, visit the National Crime Prevention Council website.

Safety Information: How to Be Streetwise and Safe

Knowing how to protect yourself can reduce the opportunity for muggers, purse snatchers and other criminals to strike.

Four Basic Rules

  • DO stay alert. Keep your mind on your surroundings, who's in front of you, and who's behind you. Don't get distracted. If you're worried about crime, ask a friend to accompany you when you go out.
  • DO communicate the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going. Stand tall, walk purposefully, and make quick eye contact with people around you.
  • DO trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.
  • DO know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants, and stores that are open late.

In The Car

  • Keep your car in good running condition to avoid breakdowns.
  • Drive with all your doors locked. Keep windows rolled up whenever possible.
  • Take the time to check the inside of your vehicle before you get into it. If anything looks disturbed or suspicious, contact a friend or call 9-1-1 to have a deputy check out the car before you get into it alone.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If you see another motorist in trouble, signal that you will get help and then go to a telephone and call 9-1-1.
  • If your car breaks down (and you do not have a cell phone), raise the hood, use flares, or tie a white cloth to the door handle or antenna. Stay in the locked car. When someone stops, ask them to phone for help.
  • Park in well-lighted areas that will still be well-lighted when you return. Lock your car doors.
  • Be particularly alert and careful when using underground and enclosed parking garages.
  • If you are being followed while driving, drive to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station or other business, or well-lighted residence where you can safely call 9-1-1. Try to get the car's license number and description. If no safe areas are near, honk the horn repeatedly and turn on your emergency flashers.

When Walking

  • Plan the safest route to your destination and use it. Choose well-lighted busy streets and avoid passing vacant lots, alleys, or construction sites. Take the long way if it is the safest.
  • Know your neighborhood. Find out what stores and restaurants are open late and where the police and fire stations are.
  • Make sure you know where your children are going and when they go out, and encourage them to play with other kids. Show them safe places in the neighborhood where they can go if they ever feel scared.
  • Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or side trouser pocket, not in a rear trouser pocket.
  • Do not flaunt expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Walk while you are facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
  • Know businesses that are open.

In Elevators

  • Look in the elevator before getting in to be sure no one is hiding.
  • Stand near the controls.
  • Get off if someone suspicious enters. If you're worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something and do not get on. (Do not worry about hurting someone's feelings-keeping safe should be your first priority.)
  • If you are attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.

Jogging, Biking, and Other Outdoor Activities

  • Choose routes in advance that are safe and well populated.
  • Vary your route and schedule.
  • Avoid jogging and biking at night.
  • Consider carrying a "shriek" alarm.
  • Do not wear headphones - it is important to remain alert.

What if It Happens To You?

  • Try to remain calm, try not to panic or show any signs of anger or confusion.
  • If the attacker is only after your purse or other valuables, do not resist. You do not want to escalate a property crime into a violent confrontation.
  • Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of your attacker: age, race, complexion, body build, height, weight, type and color of clothing.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately, identify yourself and your location. Contact your local victim assistance agency to help you deal with the trauma that all crime victims experience. They can also help you learn about victim compensation laws and how to follow your case's progress.

On Foot: Day or Night

  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Do not flash money or other tempting targets like jewelry or clothing.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket. Carry only what is necessary and try not to keep currency and credit cards all in one place.
  • Do not wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • Try to use automated teller machines in the daytime. Have your card in hand and don't approach the machine if you're uneasy about people nearby. Better yet, only use the ATM machines inside of grocery stores, malls, or gas stations.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If someone harasses you, do not be embarrassed. Loudly say, "Leave me alone! Someone call 9-1-1! Get away!"

If Someone Tries to Rob You

  • Do not resist. Give up your property. Do not risk your life.
  • Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from being victims. Take a Stand!
  • Make your neighborhood and working place safer by reporting broken street lights, cleaning up parks and vacant lots, and lobbying local government for better lighting in public places.
  • Initiate a Block Watch program in your neighborhood by contacting your local crime prevention unit.

Family Vacation -- Fun and Safety

Planning a family vacation? Whether the destination is Disneyland, Denver, or Denmark, there are certain things to keep in mind. Making the trip fun and enjoyable for everyone is key. But just as important to the success of your trip will be the steps you take to make it a safe one.

Before You Leave

Preventing crime during family travel starts with making sure your home is protected while you are away. The key is to make it look like you never left.

  • Keep shades and blinds in their normal positions.
  • Stop mail and newspapers, or ask a neighbor to pick them up every day.
  • Put timers on several household lights so they turn on and off at appropriate times.
  • Arrange to have the grass mowed while you're gone.
  • Make sure all of your door and window locks are in working order and make sure to use them.
  • Activate your home alarm system (if you have one).
  • Contact your local police department and have them conduct vacation house checks while you are away.
  • You might even leave a radio on, or put it on a timer. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway overnight--anything that might suggest someone is home. And, do not forget to lock all doors and windows when you leave.

Packing For Prevention

Preparing for a family trip requires a lot of planning. You need to decide where you are going, where you will stay, and how you will get from one place to another. You also need to decide what to take with you. Planning can decrease the chances of crime joining you on your journey. Listed below are some some tips on what to take:

  • Clean out your wallet or purse before you go; take only essential credit cards. Plan to use credit cards or traveler's checks instead of cash whenever possible.
  • Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet in an inside front pocket. Better yet, take a "fanny pack" or wear a money pouch under your clothes.
  • Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to robbery.
  • Expensive, designer luggage can draw unneeded attention to your belongings. Pack your things in inconspicuous bags.
  • Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage, and keep anything of value such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on that stays with you.

Out and About

Your home is secured and you are packed. Now it is time to go. While you and your family are traveling, it is important to remember that tourists make tempting targets for thieves. Often lost or distracted, weighed down with bags, and carrying cameras, plane tickets, money and other valuables, unsuspecting travelers can attract crime like a magnet.

  • The best advice for you and your family is to do all that you can to blend in with the crowd.
  • Do not display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags, and other items that might draw attention.
  • Check maps before you go out so you can tour confidently.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well traveled streets at all times--no shortcuts.
  • Always lock your car when it is parked, even if the stop is brief. Keep valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk. Do not advertise that you are a tourist by leaving maps and guidebooks on the seat or dashboard--keep them in the glove compartment.
  • Traveling safely with your family also means sticking together and keeping an eye on your children at all times. Make sure they know where you are staying (name and address) and teach them what to do if they get lost or separated. You might want to agree on a meeting place, just in case. And by all means, make sure your kids know not to accept rides or favors from strangers. Make your family vacation a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Firearm Safety Information: "Lok-It-Up" Campaign

In 1997 the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center convened a coalition of health, public safety, education and community organizations to address the problem of easy access to handguns by children and adolescents. Unsecured firearms in the home, particularly handguns, pose a significant risk for accidental injury and death, suicide and gun theft. The current LOK-IT-UP campaign grew out of this original coalition.

The target audience is the gun owner who feels the need to keep a gun unlocked and loaded. When handguns are kept for self-protection, they are often kept loaded and readily available. This situation is particularly dangerous in homes where children and adolescents either live or are frequent visitors.

Law enforcement personnel were considered credible gun safety authorities by focus groups of handgun owners. Police have knowledge of firearms and firearms safety, yet are not perceived as a threat to gun ownership. When possible, law enforcement personnel were utilized to promote safe storage of firearms.

The LOK-IT-UP partners have coordinated to create and distribute compatible and consistent messages about safe firearm storage throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Consistent and repeated messages are critical to changing community standards and norms in the direction of personal and community responsibility for the safe storage of guns. LOK-IT-UP partners have developed and implemented a number of intervention strategies and are eager to share the successes and experiences with other interested communities and parties.

To learn more about the "LOK-IT-UP" Campaign, and what you can do to better protect children from firearms, please visit their website at:

Halloween Safety Tips: Pointers for Parents

Halloween may be a fun holiday for children, but for parents, trick-or-treat time can be a little tricky. Concerns about children's safety--whether they are out in the neighborhood or back home with bags of treats--can darken the day. To make Halloween a treat for all, follow these safety tips:

Make Sure Your Kids Dress Up Safely

  • Check that the costumes are flame-retardant so the little ones are not in danger near burning jack-o-lanterns and other fire hazards.
  • Keep costumes short to prevent trips, falls, and other bumps in the night.
  • Try make-up instead of masks. Masks can be hot and uncomfortable and, more importantly, they can obstruct a child's vision. (A dangerous thing when kids are crossing streets and going up and down steps.)
  • Make sure children wear light colors or put reflective tape on their costumes.
  • Trick-or-treaters always should be in groups so they are not a tempting target for real-life goblins. Parents should accompany young children.

Make Trick-Or-Treating Trouble-Free

  • Make sure older children trick-or-trick with friends. Together, map out a safe route so parents know where they will be. Tell them to stop only at familiar homes where the outside lights are on.
  • Try to get your children to trick-or-treat while it's still light out. If it is dark, make sure someone has a flashlight and pick well-lighted streets.
  • Make sure children know they should not enter strange houses or stranger's cars.


  • Children should not eat treats until they get home. One way to keep trick-or-treaters from digging in while they are still out is to feed them a meal or a snack beforehand.
  • Check out all treats at home in a well-lighted place.
  • What to eat? Only unopened candies and other treats from family or well-known friends. By all means, remind children not to eat everything at once or they will be feeling pretty ghoulish for a while!

Tips for Safe and Happy Holidays

This holiday season, do not let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers, and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it is an opportune time for crime.

Homes jam-packed with glittering gifts. Stores, malls, and downtown streets teeming with unsuspecting shoppers. People rushing around, stressed out and careless, looking for last-minute gifts, trying to get everything done. It is enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy!

Here are some tips on how to celebrate safely this holiday season:

If You Are Traveling:

  • Purchase an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your home.
  • Do not forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, it is a sure sign you are gone.

If You Are Out For The Evening:

  • Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone is home.
  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it is just for a few minutes.
  • Do not display gifts where they can be seen from the outside.

If You Are Shopping:

  • Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.
  • Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
  • Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Do not overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
  • Shopping with children? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated. 

If a Stranger Comes to the Door - Beware!

Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. And, it is not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there is no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

Last but not least, do not let holiday stress get the best of your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends, and neighbors, and think about reaching out in the spirit of the season to help someone who is less fortunate or lonely.

Do your part to make the holidays a safe and happy time for everybody-except criminals!

Home Security Systems

A few "bad apples" have given home security system salespeople a poor reputation. Some are swindlers who will scare homeowners into purchasing their products and even inflate the price to line their own pockets. They may talk customers into a rollover contract that self-renews, forcing the homeowner to pay for another period without authorization.

If you're looking into a home security system, here are a few things to keep in mind to keep from being swindled:

  • Take your time shopping and researching.
  • If a security company wants to charge you more then $50 per month for monitoring, don't do business with them and search for another company. Some companies will quote a very low price on the equipment and its installation and then have an extremely high monthly monitoring fee.
  • Is the monitoring station UL approved? Is the station properly staffed and trained? Gather price quotes from various companies for security and include smoke and fire monitoring.
  • Make a drawing of your home, or a checklist, and figure out how many doors and windows you need to protect.
  • Call your insurance agent and ask what discounts are available on your homeowners insurance and what requirements a security system must meet for you to qualify.
  • Do not lease a burglar alarm.
  • Always contact the Washington State Burglar and Fire Alarm Association for references and referrals. Their number is 800.248.9272.
  • If a salesperson tries to scare you into buying their alarm system, terminate your conversation with them. If they have to scare you into buying their product, how good could it really be? If you want to find out what the criminal statistics are for your particular area (for all crimes) then contact your Community Outreach Deputy at (360) 786-4395 for a report.
  • If an alarm representative tells you that their system connects directly to the 9-1-1 system, terminate your conversation with them immediately. This is against the law and they are lying to you in order to obtain your business. Immediately report them to the Better Business Bureau.

For more on the topic of crime prevention, visit the following websites:

National Crime Prevention Council   and   Washington State Crime Prevention Association


Identity Theft

How Identity Thieves Work

  • They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there is a problem.
  • They establish cellular phone service in your name.
  • They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.

How to Protect Yourself

For an in-depth document with valuable information and resources to protect yourself from identity thieves, including steps to take if you believe your identity may have been stolen:

Click here for a downloadable PDF document. [NEED LINK]

For a brief one-page list of useful resources: Click here for a downloadable PDF document.  [NEED LINK]

Kids Home Alone: A Parent's Guide

Families with working parents make up the majority of American families today. These parents share the anxiety, frustration, and even fear involved in leaving children "on their own" when school lets out, child care arrangements with neighbors and relatives break down, or there simply are not any alternatives.

What Can You Do?

  • Make sure your children are ready to care for themselves.
  • Teach them basic safety rules.
  • Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and who they are with.

Are They Ready? Can Your Children:

  • Be trusted to go straight home after school?
  • Easily use the telephone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
  • Follow rules and instructions well?
  • Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
  • Stay alone without being afraid or lonely?

Talk it over with them and listen to their worries and ideas. Work out rules on having friends over, household chores, homework, and television. Remember: staying at home alone can build a child's self-esteem, sense of responsibility, and practical skills.

Teach "Home Alone" Children:

  • How to call 9-1-1.
  • How to give directions to your home in case of an emergency.
  • To check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.
  • To never accepts gifts or rides from people they don't know well.
  • How to use the door, window locks, and the alarm system if you have one.
  • To never let anyone into the home without asking your permission.
  • To never let a caller at the door or on the phone know that they’re alone (say "Mom can't come to the phone right now").
  • To carry a house key with them in a safe place (inside a shirt pocket or sock) - do not leave it under a mat or on a ledge.
  • How to escape in case of fire.
  • To not go into an empty house or apartment if things do not look right - a broken window, ripped screen, or opened door.
  • To let you know about anything that frightens them or makes them feel uncomfortable.

For more information and resources, visit:

School Safety

When crime, drugs, and violence spill over from the streets into schools, providing a safe learning environment becomes increasingly difficult. More students carry weapons. Gunfights replace fistfights. Many students must travel through dealer or gang turf. Violence becomes an acceptable way to settle conflicts. When this happens, children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach.

Creating a safe place where children can learn and grow depends on a partnership among students, parents, teachers, and other community institutions.

To help prevent school violence

  • Find out how crime threatens schools in your community.
  • Take action to protect children.
  • Promote nonviolent ways to manage conflict.
  • How do these ideals translate into action? Here are some practical suggestions for young people, parents, school staff and others in the community.


  • Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons.
  • Report crimes or suspicious activities to the police, school authorities, or parents.
  • Take safe routes to and from school and know good places to seek help.
  • Do not use alcohol or other drugs and stay away from places and people associated with them.
  • Get involved in your school’s anti-violence activities--have poster contests against violence, hold anti-drug rallies, and volunteer to counsel peers. If there are no programs, help start one.


  • Sharpen your parenting skills. Work with your children to emphasize and build their positive strengths.
  • Teach your children how to reduce their risk of being victims of crime.
  • Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and whom they are with at all times, no matter how old your child is.
  • Help your children learn nonviolent ways to handle frustrations, anger, and conflict.
  • Become involved in your child’s school activities, such as the PTA, field trips, and helping out in class or the lunchroom.

School Staff

  • Evaluate your school's safety objectively. Set targets for improvement.
  • Develop consistent disciplinary policies, good security procedures, and a response plan for emergencies.

Like all of you, employees of the Thurston County Sheriff's Department were shocked and devastated to hear of the most recent shootings at schools in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Even with exposure to violent crimes as part of their daily lives in law enforcement, nothing could have prepared them for what happened to those children.

In their daily contacts with children, parents attempt to be open and trusting of young ones, and in return, children look to their parents for guidance and love every day. Sometimes parents fall short of that need from time to time, but can recover and try harder the next day. Unfortunately, the desire to be a good friend to children can conflict with being a good parent. It does not always work out to be both all of the time. It is up to parents and role models to teach children what to do when tragedies occur such as the Littleton, Colorado shooting (Columbine). The following are a few tips for those seeking assistance in doing so:

  • Do not be afraid to bring up the subject of the shootings with children. They may have heard about the shootings, they may not have, but don't ignore the possibility. Take this opportunity to let them express their feelings. Are they afraid to go to school now? Do they have concerns about students at their school?
  • Discuss with them what they would do in an emergency situation should one occur at their school. Encourage them to report any suspicious behavior or comments they may have heard from other students. Random violence is impossible to predict, so discuss an emergency plan of action with them should they ever be exposed to such violence. What should they do? (don't panic, remain calm) Where should they go? (Is there a safe way out?)
  • Do not be afraid to be a "nosy" parent. Be aware of where your child is and what they are doing, no matter how old they are. Do not feel like you cannot go into their room and take a look around. You are the parent and you have a right (and obligation) to know what is going on in your own home. When it comes to protecting your children, there is no such thing as "invasion of privacy."
  • If your child is exhibiting disturbing signs of behavior, address it immediately. As parents, you may be familiar with the "fine-no nothing-not really" response. For example: "How was your day at school today, honey?" "Fine." "Did you do anything interesting?" "Not really." "Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about?" "No, nothing." It can be frustrating trying to communicate with kids, but the important thing is to let them know that you want to. Keep asking your questions and let them know you are interested and they will feel comfortable when they really need to talk with you about something.
  • With the unregulated access to Internet sites, children are exposed to innumerable sites with inappropriate material. Supervise what your children are accessing on the Internet. Don't be afraid to check their files and monitor what they are pulling up. If your child has access to a computer elsewhere, take the time to contact that parent or educational center and find out how they monitor the activity on their computer(s). If they do not, then you may have to consider whether or not you want your child at that location anymore.

Cherish your children and tell them you love them every single day. Even when a child is being punished, it is still appropriate to let them know that you love them. Children are our most precious treasures and it is up to each and every one of us to assist in protecting them. Children are our future and we have the responsibility of raising them correctly. Even if you don't have children of your own, everyone plays a part in a child's life and this role should be taken seriously by all.

For more information and resources, visit:


Senior Safety Information

Although surveys consistently show that persons over 65 are victims of crime far less frequently than young people, many senior citizens are so worried about crime that they shut themselves up in their homes and rarely go out. But isolating oneself behind locked doors and not getting together with neighbors actually makes it easier for criminals to work in the neighborhood.

Seniors are more vulnerable to certain crimes - purse snatching, mugging, and fraud. But you can reduce opportunities for criminals to strike by being careful, alert, and a good neighbor.

Personal Safety Suggestions

  • If you must carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Don't dangle it.
  • Avoid dark, deserted routes, even if they are the shortest.
  • Whenever possible, travel with a friend to run errands. There is safety in numbers!
  • Have your car or house key in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.
  • If you live alone, don't advertise it. Use only your first initial in phone books, directories, and apartment lobbies. Or better yet, don't list your name and number at all by requesting a non-published number.
  • Never let strangers in your home - ever! They may offer a sob story, to which you can call the police if you wish, but do not open the door!
  • Work out a "buddy" system with a friend to check on each other daily.
  • If you receive checks in the mail regularly, arrange for them to be sent directly to the bank instead.
  • Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security devices.
  • Never put your purse or wallet on a counter while you examine merchandise in a store. 

Don't Be Conned

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes far out of proportion to their population numbers. Keep informed about the latest con schemes in your community by reading the newspaper. Be skeptical about any proposal that sounds too good to be true or has to be kept secret. Don't rush into anything. Check it out with friends, lawyers, or police department.

If you are the victim of fraud, call the police immediately. You may be embarrassed because you were tricked, but your information is vital in catching the con artist and preventing others from being victimized.

Walking and Running Safely

Running and walking continue to be extremely popular sports. Each year, more and more people take up running and walking because it is a quick, inexpensive way to stay fit. If you travel often, running or walking is an excellent way to maintain your exercise regimen. Also, many community centers and neighborhood and senior groups are starting walking clubs. Here are a few pointers to stay safe as you hit the road.

Before You Leave

  • Plan your outing. Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Inform friends and family of your favorite exercise routes.
  • Know where telephones are located along the route.
  • Wear an identification tag or carry a driver's license. If you don't have a place to carry your ID, write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside of your athletic shoe. Include any medical information.
  • Don't wear jewelry or carry cash.
  • Wear reflective material.

On the Road

  • Stay alert at all times. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
  • Run or walk with a partner and/or a dog.
  • Don't wear headsets. If you wear them you won't hear an approaching car or attacker. Listen to your surroundings.
  • Consider carrying a cellular phone.
  • Exercise in familiar areas. Know which businesses or stores are open.
  • Vary your route.
  • Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Especially avoid poorly lighted areas at night.
  • Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
  • Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
  • Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles.
  • Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React based on that intuition and avoid areas you feel unsure about.
  • Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions - if you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
  • If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for an open business, theater, or a lighted house.
  • Have your door key ready before you reach your car or home.
  • Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is also a good idea to check with police about any criminal activity in the area you plan to run.

Stay Alert

Sometimes runners and walkers get lulled into a "zone" where they are so focused on their exercise they lose track of what's going on around them. This state can make runners and walkers more vulnerable to attack. Walk and run with confidence and purpose. If you get bored running without music, practice identifying characteristics of strangers and memorizing license plate numbers to keep you from "zoning" out.

Away From Home

Many people have taken up running and walking so that they will be able to exercise when they are traveling. Remember, just because you are away from home doesn't mean you can let your guard down when you're exercising. Before you venture out:

  • Check with the hotel staff or concierge to find safe routes for exercise. If there is not an acceptable place. to exercise outdoors, see if the hotel can arrange for you to go to a health club or gym.
  • Become familiar with your exercise course before you start. Get a map and study it.
  • Remember the street address of the hotel. Carry a card with your hotel address along with your identification.
  • Leave your room key with the front desk.
  • Follow your usual safety rules.

Signs of Drug Activity

Like all U.S. counties, Thurston County faces a growing battle against drugs. The authorities cannot solve this problem alone. Success requires community involvement. It is important that you know what an investigation requires and how you can help.

It is often difficult to know if specific activity involves drugs, but some patterns may indicate drug activity:

  • An unusually large amount of traffic contacting a building -- cars, taxis, or people walking -- often at strange hours. Visitors may sometimes pound on doors or shout to be let in. This traffic is usually quick with people staying only a short time. Sometimes they don't go in at all; instead, someone comes out to meet them.
  • Finding drugs or drug paraphernalia (syringes, pipes, etc.) in the area.
  • Repeated, observable exchanges of items, especially where money is visible.
  • Offers to sell you drugs, or conversations about drugs that you overhear.
  • Noxious odors from or around the buildings, such as "musty" smells. 
  • Buildings where extreme security measures seem to be taken.
  • Buildings where no owner or primary renter is apparent, and no home activities, yard work, painting/maintenance, etc., seem to go on.

Many communities have unpopular residents. Obnoxious or peculiar behavior, a different lifestyle, racial or ethnic background, or economic level does not necessarily mean the person is a drug dealer.

How To Report Drug Activity

Do not assume the authorities already know, or that a neighbor will call. Do not assume one report is all that is needed. If the activity keeps on occurring, keep on reporting it. If the pattern changes, report that change. All neighbors affected by the drug activity are encouraged to report.

In Progress

For drug activity which is in progress or needs an immediate Sheriff's Office response, call 9-1-1. If a patrol car is available, a deputy will respond.


On-going drug activity, which police need to be aware of, but does not require immediate response, can be reported by calling Crime Stoppers at (360) 493-2222, or the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force at (360) 786-0572, and a deputy will take your activity report over the phone.

While you certainly can report drug activity anonymously, it is more helpful if you will give your name and phone number in case other information is needed. You can ask that your name not be released to anyone.

Officer Response

If a patrol car is free when you report drug activity, a deputy will respond. However, drug deals are completed quickly and are often over before a deputy can arrive.

Not Sufficient for an Arrest

Citizen reports usually cannot be the primary cause for a drug arrest. Unless you have special training or experience with drugs or drug users, the courts will say an arrest based only on citizen testimony is not justified. Since few citizens can meet the strict legal standards, deputies who do have the training and experience must make their own observations and collect evidence the courts will accept.

Provides Cause for Investigation

Your reports are still very important, even though they cannot be used as the direct cause for an arrest. They let the Sheriff's Office know there is a problem, and they provide a reason for deputies to undertake an investigation of a person or location.

All narcotics activity reports are screened by the Narcotics Task Force. The investigation may include drug buys made by undercover officers or reliable police informants. These buys are the best evidence and must be made under carefully controlled conditions. During the period of investigation, you may not see any evidence of police activity.

If sufficient cause can be confirmed, a request is made to a judge for a search warrant for the building. Residents who possess drugs will be arrested. The court may release them on bail, however, and they may return to the neighborhood while they await trial. Dealers often move elsewhere, or stop dealing after an arrest.

When the warrant is served, a file is started under the abatement law which was passed in 1988. "Abatement" means the city asks the court to declare the property a public nuisance and allows the city to board it up for up to a year. If drug activity continues after the owner has been warned, abatement proceedings can be started. Abatement isn't a fast process however, and may require written neighborhood testimony on the impact of the drug operation on the neighborhood in order to succeed.

What Else Should Neighbors Do?

Contact Your Community Outreach Deputy

Call 360-867-2063 or email your Community Outreach Deputy. He can provide additional valuable information and help the neighborhood develop procedures and strategies to deal with the crime problem. He can also be a liaison for you with the various units of the Sheriff's Office that may be involved in investigating the problem.

For more on information at the National level, visit the US Drug Enforcement Administration website

Crime Prevention Resources

For a downloadable PDF document, click here

National Crime Prevention Council

Contact Information: or 800-NCPC-911 (800-627-2911)

Articles on emerging crime prevention topics

Publications about crime prevention

Free downloads of brochures on various topics

Visit for fun activities for kids plus child safety info


National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Contact Information: or 866-476-2338

Information on keeping kids safe

Free documents regarding child safety


Stop Cyberbullying

Contact Information:

Information on Dr. Keenan's guide to dealing with Cyberbullying & Substance Abuse

Contact Information:

Information on cyberbullying and how to prevent it

Games and interactive tools for learning and communicating


Internet Safety for Young Students

Contact Information:

Brief overview of the nature and types of Internet dangers

Further resources

Make a Difference for Kids

Contact Information:

Highly interactive, with compelling stories of actual incidents

Resources for education and prevention of Internet stalking, cyberbullying, etc.


Be Smart, Be Safe!

Contact Information:

Middle School web site with wide-ranging resources concerning Internet safety



Contact Information:

Information on internet safety for all ages

Interactive games and activities to help teach kids about internet safety


Washington State Traffic Safety Commission

Contact Information: or 360-753-6197

Information on traffic safety issues, including:

Bicycle safety, pedestrian safety, seatbelts, child seats,

drunk driving, and teens behind the wheel

Free materials about traffic safety


National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Contact Information:

Free publications about crime prevention topics

Reports about crime across the nation

Email newsletters featuring new publications



Washington State Crime Prevention Association

Contact Information: or 509-525-3342

Crime prevention tips in all areas

Links to other crime prevention websites


US Department of Homeland Security

Contact Information: or 202-282-8000

Information about:

Emergency preparedness, cyber-security, and travel safety

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Contact Information: https://www.fbi.gov or 206-622-0460

Reports on crime and statistics

Crime prevention publications on:

Internet safety, gangs and other topics

Educational feature teaching kids about the FBI


Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs

Contact Information: or 360-486-2380

Information about issues faced by law enforcement

Crime statistics

Washington State sex offenders link


National Sex Offender Public Registry

Contact Information:

Searchable database of all sex offenders in states that participate


Drug Enforcement Administration

Contact Information:

Tons of information about drugs and drug abuse prevention

Free publications

Contact Information:

Helpful information for neighborhood watch programs


Federal Trade Commission

Contact Information: or 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)

Free publications about the prevention and detection of ID Theft, fraud, etc.

National "Do Not Call Registry" enrollment

Information about internet safety and spyware

Instructions for ordering a free credit report


US Postal Inspectors

Contact Information: or 800-773-7226

Free publications about mail security, fraud & ID Theft

On-line reporting of mail theft


Fight Crime: Invest in Kids - Washington

Contact Information:

Crime Prevention Research

Policy recommendations

Breaking news, links to resources

Internet, phone, email, and mail scams are among the various scam techniques that operatives use to take your resources. Review this page to learn more about common scam techniques, and how to avoid them.

For a complete list of the most current and common scam, you can visit the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer information website at

Warrant Scam

We have received several complaints from citizens who have received a call from someone claiming to be a Thurston County Sheriff's Office Deputy. Scammers have spoofed the Sheriff's office phone number and claim that you have an outstanding warrant, making threats that unless they receive payment the citizen will be arrested.

THIS IS A SCAM! PLEASE DO NOT GIVE THESE SCAMMERS ANY MONEY, IN ANY FORM, and DO NOT volunteer any of your personal information over the phone. Please just hang-up, call the agency they claim to be from back. This is not how our agency handles warrants. We won't call you ahead of time and we will never demand direct payment from you to resolve your warrant.

If you have a direct concern about this ongoing telephone scan, or if you have given any form of money or gift cards as a result of this warrant scam, please call the non-emergency dispatch at 360-704-2740 to speak to a deputy on duty.

Fraudulent Websites and Email Solicitations

One particularly disturbing trend involves an increase in fraudulent websites or bulk email solicitations. They contain links to phony phisher websites that ask recipients to reveal sensitive information such as bank account, social security, or personal identification numbers. They look and feel of the email or the fake site so closely mimics the websites of legitimate, reputable companies such as: eBay, Citibank, Washington Mutual, KeyBank, Microsoft, Apple, or Amazon. DO NOT fall for these phony email requests. You will notice that they sometimes even go to the extent of putting the "secure site" logo on their pages. They want you to click on the links they provide within this email.


Gift Card Scam

Scammers have now figured out a way to rob you of your gift card balance. If you buy gift cards from a display rack that is within reach of the general public, you could become a victim of theft. Scammers are jotting down the card numbers, waiting a few days, then calling the 800 number to check how much of a balance is left. Here are some steps you can take to prevent this from happening to your gift cards:

  • The safer choice when selecting a gift card it to purchase one that is kept behind a customer service counter.
  • Purchase gift cards with a "scratch off" on the back that covers the ID number.
  • Always keep your receipt, because most retailers will replace your card if it has been lost or stolen.

Put a Stop to Shoplifting:

  • Alert employees may be your best defense. Have them greet customers when they enter the store. Teach them to be attentive in a helping way. Make sure that all your employees are familiar with shoplifting laws in your state and establish procedures for them to follow if they suspect shoplifting.
  • Make sure you can see everything that goes on in your store. Keep counters low, no more then waist-high. Mount mirrors in corners so there are no blind spots.
  • Make it hard to leave the store without paying. Place expensive items in the center of the store, away from any exits. Arrange counters and display tables so there's no direct route to the exit. Some stores put turnstiles at entrances so the only way to get out is through the checkout counter.
  • Arrange your displays so that missing items are easily noticed. Place small items in neat rows or patterns. If you must, fasten expensive merchandise to alarms.
  • Announce and observe a policy to prosecute shoplifters. The threat of being caught, questioned by police, put on trial, and maybe even put in jail may be enough to turn most shoplifters away.

Common Shoplifting Methods

  • Bulky clothing used to hide merchandise:
    • Coats
    • Pants
    • Maternity outfits
    • Packages
  • Hiding places for merchandise:
    • Bags
    • Knapsacks
    • Purses
  • Special props include:
    • Hollowed-out books
    • Fake casts
    • Umbrellas
    • Even baby strollers

What to Watch For:

  • Be aware of customers' hands, pockets, purses and handkerchiefs.
  • Notice open packages, purses, shopping bags, and backpacks.
  • Watch for customers who are nervous, have wandering eyes, or are loitering.
  • Watch groups of people, especially if one attempts to keep you distracted.

Employees are Not Exempt

Some experts believe that businesses lose more to employee theft than to burglary, robbery, and shoplifting combined. Examine your management practices. Make your employees feel that they have a stake in your business.

Inventory Control

Unfortunately, there are many ways dishonest employees can cheat their employers. A cashier in a grocer store "accidentally" damages boxes and cans so she can buy them at reduced prices. A maintenance worker stashes office supplies like calculators and typewriters in trash bins. A stock clerk saves discarded customer receipts and uses them to show that stolen goods were "paid for."

Your best defense is frequent and thorough inventory control. Limit employees' access to stock and inventory records. Occasionally check trash bins. Conduct periodic, unexpected inventory checks so dishonest employees know they run the risk of being caught by surprise.

How Much Does Shoplifting Cost Businesses?

  • Businesses lose an estimated $16 billion each year to shoplifting.
  • Each family in the US spends $300 per year to subsidize what shoplifters steal.
  • Nearly 90% of the population has, during their lifetime, shoplifted.
  • There is a shoplifting theft every five seconds of every day.
  • Shoplifting accounts for 30% of all reported crime.
  • One third of all new businesses fail due to retail theft.
  • Adolescents account for nearly 50% of shoplifters, but they only steal one-third as much as adults.
  • Shoplifting accounts for 5 to 10 cents on each dollar spent in our retail economy.
  • For more on crime prevention, visit the following websites: