Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Take a notch out of the police state! Stop 'Receipt Checkers' at the stores you visit!

We've all been there, go to Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Fry's, etc... you spend hours sometimes in their stores, make your purchases, and go to exit the store. You are greeted at the exit by a big burly man in a yellow shirt, or a group of 'Receipt Checkers' who want nothing more than to, "Make sure you got everything you paid for." Of course the cashier will always say, "Please show your receipt at the door." Note* the word 'please', and note that they say 'receipt'.

This is 100% pure horseshit. We all know what they're doing is making sure you didn't steal anything, but is what they're doing legal? The short answer is no... you don't have to show your receipt, and you don't have to open your bags. Plain and simple, it's not compulsory and it violates the fourth Amendment of our Constitution. They almost always try to be polite so as to make it voluntary.

What they're doing is two things: Looking to see if you stole something, and looking for 'booster' bags or boxes. A booster bag or box is a seemingly legit looking bag or box lined with foil which circumvents those door security anti-theft devices companies put in their products. I must first recommend against employing said devices, as in most states you can be charged with 'theft-tools' which in many states is a felony. That being said, if you're a thief and you get caught, I have no advice for you. Many high target stores have rings of thieves that employ 'booster' devices to rip them off. They usually case a store and leave with nothing in their booster bags / boxes to check the security of a target. A store that can catch one, can reasonably believe that they are about to become a theft target.


If however you're an honest Joe / Jane, and you've made a purchase, the the bag and all of its contents are yours once you're handed the receipt... your personal property. You do not have to consent to a search therefore without a warrant. I am not a lawyer, but a former police officer. You will not find a legit police officer willing to search someone without probable cause because its a wide open lawsuit for unlawful detention / imprisonment. The only time I've ever seen a grey legit sign was in either a court house, federal installation, or a military post.

As I said before, to stop someone, most states require that either a felony will be committed, or that a misdemeanor 'has' been committed. So what that means is this:

Security Officer Joe observes Mike in a closed off area of the store where the value of common goods exceeds felony value and a good disappears when Mike leaves the area within a reasonable amount of time, or Security Officer Joe observes Mike placing an item in a bag, pocket, etc wherein the value of the good is less than that of a felony charge. The difference between the two, is that for the felony, Joe only has to suspect with a reasonable doubt, (Mike was the only one in the area when the felony valued good disappeared or video surveillance shows him / her pocketing the item) and for misdemeanor Joe must observe mike from the 'pocketing' or 'boosting' of the misdemeanor valued good from the point of the theft to past the last point of possible purchase (exit door).

Now, a caveat here is this "Merchant Law" which I've heard of, but no one's been able to cite (Police or DA) in any state the statute for that entitles a merchant to check your bags. That being said, I've lived in New York, California, Washington, and Florida wherein no such laws exist. I have a pretty hard time believing that any court will trump the Constitutional rights of the USA for Best Buy or CostCo. If anyone can cite one of these said merchant laws... I'm all ears.

What to do if you're stopped at a door:
1. Politely decline a search... don't be an ass.
2. If you're using their shopping cart remove your bags from said cart and invite them to inspect the empty cart.
3. If they demand a search, ask if you're being detained or arrested.
4. If they admit you're being detained or arrested, demand a police officer and note the time.
5. If the detainment time exceeds your state's statute, then profit from a small claims suit. (most states regulate this to be around $2,000.00)

Again, this is not for thieves, this is for citizens who wish not to disprove that they are in fact thieves.

Happy Shopping,

Friday, June 4, 2010

The answer to BP's answers is simple... boycott BP! 760 safety violations, no solution to fix their continued flow of oil into our Gulf of Mexico... its simple, DON'T BUY THEIR GAS!

If it were a disaster off the coast of Wales, you could bet your arse that we'd be held accountable, already have had this sealed, and be dealing with countless lawsuits, which pretty much guarantee all but the folding of a publicly traded company.

Let me make this clear, I'm not bailing this company out, and I do NOT expect my tax dollars to do so either. They made mistakes, they cost lives, and they destroyed an ecosystem as a result. They should not profit from this in the least bit. Please join me in boycotting BP until this is fixed, or until they no longer operate.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

TSA Fail

Straight from the desk of WTF?

I recently travelled from Virginia to my home in Florida to see my family for a weekend. Going through the security checkpoint headed up by the illustrious TSA, my carry-on bag was flagged.

Whenever this happens, we jump, did I leave a pair of scissors in my bag? A butter knife? God forbid something in my bag from a drunken night with a group of teenage-minded thirty somethings with fireworks? No, my bag was flagged for a half used tube of toothpaste... which because it was half used made it fall within the the security requirements, but because the tube itself said 4.3 ounces, they confiscated it.

What makes this hilarious, is that although I'm a computer geek by profession, I'm also a certified locksmith and a former Military Police Officer. As such, my carry on belongings contained a police issue handcuff key, and an expensive set of lock picks costing around $200.

Today, I travelled again, and made the same mistake. What got flagged this time? Not the handcuff key, not the lockpick set, but my shaving cream... which fortunately fell within the limits for travel size.

So let me paint the picture... If I were a terrorist, which I am obviously not, and if an air marshal arrests me, I can open the cuffs and finish the job. Not that the average Joe can't buy a handcuff key at any gun show. If I get locked up somewhere, I always have my pickset for an escape... but my toothpaste or shaving cream are items of concern?

TSA, I salute you.

United Airlines baggage scam

So I arrived at the airport in Charlottesville Virginia this morning two hours prior to my flight and proceeded to check into a kiosk for United Airlines Express to Washington DC with an ongoing connection to Las Vegas.

"Please swipe your credit card or passport to check in." Ok, they can't swipe my passport, but they do take my credit card. I go through the painstakingly requirements to satisfy the TSA... mind you no picture ID required at this time, and tell the kiosk I'm checking in one bag. It wants my credit card as there is now a bullshit charge for a round-trip checked in baggage.

My tickets get printed, spit out and what do my eyes see? A $35 charge for a second checked in baggage which I did not have. I notice this and explain to the counter person that I have no second checked in baggage. Charles, the United rep at the counter initially just shrugs his shoulders and offers up no explanation other than I must have pressed the number two. I ask Charles for a refund as this was an obvious error at least on the calibration of the touch screen. The kiosk did not at any time indicate that I was checking in two pieces of luggage.

Charles again shrugs his shoulders and tells me there's nothing he can do. I politely persisted, and Charles gave me a telephone number to call. I called the number, got transferred around nine or ten menus none of which were any help and was put on hold for a half hour. One hour later while still at the terminal in Bangalore India helpdesk hell, they tell me there's nothing they can do over the phone and refer me to their website... www.united.com go through their menus, and request a refund. Something my mother obviously would NOT be able to navigate through.

So, to be clear here, a kiosk can make a mistake, but their counter person cannot fix it, they can direct me to a phone number, but that's an hour of hell, and still no one can fix it, at the end, I'm forced to go to an impersonal website with a brief explanation and hope for the best.

While waiting for my connecting flight, I told my story to a coworker, who said, "Yeah, the same thing happened to me!" Apparently this is NOT an isolated incident... which raises a bigger question, "How many of our computer illiterate relatives travel through airports and get these charges and don't do anything about them or don't even notice them?"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Current news media out of touch?

Is it just me. or do we not need the modern news media anymore? I mean seriously, you cannot get any more polarized views unless you watch Faux news' Oreilly or Hannity... and shouldn't Hannity be catching that mouse? That being said, yes, I lean to the left... but I also believe in gun ownership.

CNN's recent 10 sites that will guarantee to make you laugh were anything but that, and you can't mod them down or introduce new sites... blagh. By the way CNN writers, if you're reading this, we're sick of hearing about MJ. He's dead, and we get it. How about keeping the focus on Iran's election? That's relevant to tomorrow.

Newspapers are dead. You can't mod down or up a writer for a biased article. You can't be heard in newspaper print... you'd be lucky to get a print correction blurb in the editorial column that no one reads because the page is full of sponsored ads. I will say however, that at least the ads are not annoyingly animated to distract you from the article itself. On the web we are resorted to employing adblock plus and the like to prevent our kids from seeing porn advertisements whilst researching homework.

Newspapers, like ISPs exist for one reason and one reason only... advertisers now known as spammers pay, and they pay well. I suppose the question ultimately remains... how much would you pay for uninterrupted and unbiased news be it either print, television, or online? and can you even find such a resource?

I digress...

William M. Nett

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2001 Honda Shadow Questions

I've scoured the interwebs for simple questions regarding my bike and have thus far found nothing helpful that didn't require a paid for subscription... Seriously? I own a 2001 Honda Shadow and was wondering about basic maintenance, like oil specs, spark plug gapping, the usual stuff that's included with the bike.

To be specific I was curious about the oil requirements and after my bike's battery died at McDonalds on my way to work, only after dissembling the bike did I discover that which Clymer's holds so dear. I live in Florida which gets a lot of rain, so I was concerned.

The 2001 Honda Shadow uses by default 10-40W oil, and while they don't recommend bump starting or jumping off a car battery (both of which I call BullCrap on). They conveniently suggest contacting the dealer. I did perform a jump twice, with no issues. What I didn't know was that the bike was supposed to be trickle charged every 30 days. She's charging now, but I digress and ask is the battery supposed to be draining if the power and engine switch is turned off? By my rationalization, there should be no load or closed circuit on the bike when everything is turned off. Please correct me if I am wrong.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ban the tasers!

Ok, as a former Military Police Officer, I completely comprehend the necessity of escalation of force and the use of non-lethal weapons to subdue a suspect or offender... but this taser device has just got to go. Since 2004, 300 'suspects', 'detainees', and yes 'criminals' have died due to being tasered. I think that's enough to revisit the device's use and or deployment. For some a single dose was enough, for others... it took several applications.

For some reason we've dropped the use of pepper spray, and gone to tasers. We even have an incident of a BART Officer mistaking his gun for a taser, and killing a face down and handcuffed 'detainee'. Make no mistake in training, I've been pepper-sprayed, gassed, and water gunned, all effective methods of disabling a person without having to send 10,000+ volts through a person's body. I can only think of one other device designed to the same thing... the electric chair. Believe me, having three feet of mucus dripping from your face changes your whole perspective and yes, it slows you down. These tasers are abused and are not being used by their designer's ideals, and its no wonder why.

Bad cop makes a mistake (surprise!) Agency gets sued. Agency has less money, hires cheaper cops. Agency hires idiots who watches C.O.P.S. on TV... and ends up with idiots like these:

FYI.... you cannot be arrested for trespassing unless a sign has been posted or you've been asked to leave and you refuse.