Archives September 2016

Lawn Equipment Theft Sweeps South Jersey

Most Americans believe that having a yard and keeping it well kept are important, but for many New Jersey residents, their lawn maintenance efforts have been put on hold. A string of lawn equipment thefts have taken place in Cumberland County this year.

Over 300 cases of lawn equipment theft has been reported in the city of Vineland, alone, resulting in serious losses.

Victim Diane Velez experiences a loss of over $3,000 in equipment. A compressor, power-washer, and leaf blower were stolen from her locked garage at her home outside of Vineland. During the night, the burglar managed to force entry by breaking the lock.

These thefts are not all recent, according to area police. There has been a recent trend in lawn equipment thefts across the country, but Vineland’s issues have reached epidemic proportions.
Although some arrests have been made, the criminal activity still continues. Police believe that the thieves are trading equipment in exchange for cash. Although large pieces of equipment like tractors and lawnmowers must be transported by vehicle, many of the people who are stealing the equipment are relying on a middle man to pick up the equipment after the access point has been determined.

Thieves have been known to partly remove the equipment and stash it for pickup at a later time, reducing the suspicion caused by large vehicles coming to private properties and taking the equipment.

Police are currently searching for the middlemen of the operation — the thieves themselves — in order to conduct a larger investigation that pinpoints the leader in the landscaping scheme.

All South Jersey residents who witness any suspicious activity or have information regarding the thefts are advised to contact authorities immediately using one of the following methods:

    • Call the Crime Stoppers line at (856) 691-0345
    • Text VPDTIP and your tip to 847411 (Tip411)
    • Contact the dedicated detective line at (856) 691-4111, ext. 4180


Americans Going to Lengths to Protect Their Security, Only Occasionally

On average, homeowners will spend up to four percent of their home’s value annually on maintenance and repairs. But instead of arming their homes with security systems, they are going the non-conventional route and taking matters into their own hands.

By purchasing guns and taking basic firearms training courses.

In light of the controversial presidential election and each candidate’s opposing views on gun laws, there have been plenty of studies done nationwide to try and get a feel for gun use within the American people.

The results? Older Americans and minorities are more likely to arm themselves with guns, but the reasons vary.

A survey by Harvard and Northeastern Universities show that about 55 million American gun owners are over 55-years-old. A quarter of Americans over 60 own a firearm of some kind, with 14% owning both a long gun and a hand gun.

Additionally, the National Rife Association reports that between 2010 and 2015, there was a whopping 400% increase in people over age 65 taking basic firearm safety courses.

It’s also worth noting that a study conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center in August found that the amount of right-to-carry permits boomed nationwide, particularly amongst minorities and women. As reported on NRA’sAmerica’s First Freedom, the amount of right-to-carry permits has increased by 161% for women, and 85% for men since 2012.

Even more, the study found that between 2007 and 2015, the number of concealed carry permits issued both federally and on the state level increased by 75% among minorities compared to whites.

So, within the past nine years, the view on gun ownership is changing in America.


The reasons differ. Some have picked up an interest in hunting, while others have grown up in famililies that were big into gun sports. But for most, they are investing in firearms as a method of protection.

As reported on KY3, the NRA tries to explain this phenomenon,

“We see the increase in older adults enrolling in firearms training courses as an indicator that these citizens believe their personal protection, and the safety of their families and property, is ultimately their responsibility, and are taking the initiative to pursue proper firearms training in order to become empowered to defend themselves legally and responsibly.”

Nick Newman, an owner of a firearms store in Missouri, adds, “The comment that we hear a lot is, this world is crazy today, and things aren’t like they used to be.”

The researchers in these studies all believe these seniors feel vulnerable and must prepare for their personal safety in the only way they know how. They also found that minorities such as women and African Americans, are arming themselves as they are becoming victims of violent crime more and more.

However, these individuals have more to worry about than just their home and physical security. Their computers are just as susceptible to threats that can put their personal information at risk. In 2013, there were 82,000 new malware threats per day, and now a new report shows that this number is only increasing.

This new study, released by security corporation Check Point, finds that some form of cyber malware is downloaded every 81 seconds worldwide. They used data from 1,100 corporations and personal computers across the world, and found unsettling results.

Not only is a new threat downloaded less than every two minutes, someone accesses a malicious website every five seconds. A high-risk application is also used every four minutes, and every 32 minutes, a person sends sensitive or private data over the web.

There are undoubtably many security concerns with these unsafe practices, as personal information is incredibly easy to attain over the web. Unfortunately, even though the computer users in the reports knew they were practicing unsafe habits, they didn’t change their behaviors on the Internet.

Overall, these personal threats are severe. They can lead to a host of privacy problems from stolen identities to scams from stolen personal and business data.

Chinese Tycoon Behind Gay Dating App ‘Grindr’ Will Pay $1.14 Billion in Divorce

According to The Washington Times, upwards of 24,000 couples in the U.S. petitioned for an annulment, but few of them can say that a divorce has cost them $1.14 billion.

Chinese business mogul and creator of the dating app “Grindr” is currently going through a divorce that will cost him roughly $1.14 billion.

According to a statement from his company, Zhou Yahui will have to transfer nearly 300 million shares of his company to his wife, Li Qiong.

The couple’s apparent split is yet another example of the toll divorce can take on the commercial ventures of some of China’s business leaders.

In the most recent court hearing, the Haidian district court in Beijing awarded Ms. Li 70.5 million of Kunlun’s shares.

Looking at the most recent stock prices, those shares are equivalent to approximately $1.14 billion. The equity transfer would make this divorce one of the most expensive in China’s history.

The way equity is handled by business owners in China makes divorces especially costly, although this one may take the cake.

However, recent studies have shown that there may be a season for divorce.

In new research that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Julie Brines, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, and Brian Serafini, a doctoral candidate there, reported “what is believed to be the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of filings for divorce.”

The press release reveals that the researchers believe that families use the holidays as an attempt to heal and create a happy atmosphere for themselves.

However, once March rolls around, couples realize that their last-ditch effort has failed. Hence, the spring divorce spike.

August is another month drenched in divorces, believed to be the result of back-to-school season.

According to the researchers, the broader economic climate seems to affect these patterns — the predictable two-spike pattern was disrupted at the height of the recession, for example.

Zhou Yahui’s divorce comes at the tail end of the summer spike, but following the trends hasn’t made his legal battle any less expensive.

However, according to some, he may still come out better off. After the equity transfer, he will still have a majority 35% stake in his company.

Smiling Self-Driving Car Will Signal Pedestrian Presence

The era of self-driving cars is no longer a wacky prediction of decades past. Indeed, the age of the autonomous automobile is not far off; although still in its infancy, the technology is being tested by numerous companies and will roll out in the near future.

Generation Y will be responsible for 75% of vehicles purchased by 2025, and many millennials are especially eager to explore the new technology of self-driving cars. In addition to the intriguing technology they present, experts claim these self-driving cars will actually be safer for their riders than human drivers would be, but what about for pedestrians? These autonomous vehicles will have to make split-second decisions in terms of driving techniques and navigating road conditions — and those include keeping people safe, both in and outside the car.

An intriguing development by Swedish company Semcon AB will address the need for communication between self-driving cars and pedestrians on the streets. Without a human driver to communicate, pedestrians would lack the visual cue to signal their presence. Semcon AB is looking to address this concern by introducing technology that utilizes one of the most basic emotional cues: namely, the smile.

The idea behind the technology is that, when a self-driving car stops at a traffic light and “sees” a person at a crosswalk, the car can confirm the pedestrian’s existence with a lit-up smile on the front of the vehicle. This will signal to the pedestrian that the car notices him or her and will stop, letting them know they cross the street safely.

Eventually, the company hopes that the technology will be able to recognize head and eye movement in order to further distinguish whether the pedestrian is seeking reassurance. The addition of laser technology could also make the system operable in harsh weather, for nighttime driving, or in places where pedestrian crosswalks are lacking.

Although the concept of a smiling car might seem nonsensical to some, it could actually provide a shared language between the technology system and humans. There’s a real need for self-driving cars to communicate with the world in a way people recognize and that feels trustworthy. According to one survey, eight out of 10 pedestrians didn’t trust autonomous automobiles. This technology might be one way to bridge the gap and provide a means of familiar communication.

The concept of the Smiling Car is just the first step in the ongoing program conducted by Semcon AB and Viktoria Swedish ICT. The two organizations want to create a global-wide standard for how self-driving cars communicate and interact with their surroundings. With so many advancements being made, those formerly deemed ridiculous predictions for the future don’t seem so preposterous now. What kinds of new car-related technologies will come in the next few years? The excitement will keep us on the edge of our (leather-upholstered) seats.

Nationwide, Baby Boomers Using Marijuana More Than Their Grandchildren

While many parents may be concerned about drug use among their teenagers, a new study shows there might not be anything for them to worry about. In fact, the older generations are turning towards recreational marijuana use rather than their children and grandchildren.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report earlier this month that has studied nationwide marijuana use within the past 12 years. The result? A surprising trend that details how older generations are turning to marijuana use at a faster rate than ever before.

Overall, marijuana use among 12- to 17-year-olds actually fell 10% since 2002. Comparatively, middle-aged people between 45 and 55 saw an increase of 50% since 2002, and the statistics only increased from there. Baby boomers saw the most significant increase, those over 65 a whopping 333% increase within the years of the study.

Significant may be the wrong word. The generation between 55 and 64? Their percentage of growth increased by an astonishing 455%.

However, while the baby boomers may have the highest increase, the percentage of the demographic actually using marijuana is incomparable to that of teens. Only 6.1% of those 55 to 64 years and 1.3% of individuals 65 and higher actually report regular marijuana use.

A full 38% of college students on the other hand report using the drug.

Even still, if these trends continue, soon grandparents all over the nation will bypass their grandchildren in using marijuana, no matter what they are using it for.

The CDC believes that these perplexing trends could be the result of the increased legislation and decriminalization of marijuana. As of fall 2015, 23 states including Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use.

There are many reasons why baby boomers are choosing to take up recreational marijuana use later in life. Some of those reasons include having more disposable income and more free time, along with fewer responsibilities in the workplace. Plus, they use marijuana as a way to cope with the stresses of aging and pain relief. Considering the fact that a whopping 95% of health care costs for older Americans include those for chronic diseases, many baby boomers are utilizing marijuana as a cheaper, more natural method of self-treatment.

An additional study, completed by the University of Michigan, agree with these findings. Titled Monitoring the Future, this 40-year-old study found that 85% of adults in their 50s have used illegal drugs, including marijuana in their lifetimes.

The study also believes that increased use of the drug could be because of a decrease in the stigma surrounding marijuana.

“Despite medical and recreational marijuana legalization sweeping the country, researchers can’t draw a direct line to state laws, said lead investigator Lloyd Johnston to LA Weekly. “What we do know [is that] among young people, there’s quite a dramatic drop in the proportion of them who see heavy marijuana use as dangerous. That, in turn, has changed usage.”

But, this may not be good news for the health of those young marijuana users. The brain doesn’t fully stop developing until age 25, and marijuana can pose some serious health risks for those that use it.

So with the majority of the debate surrounding marijuana revolving on the negative impacts on the health of children, these studies show that our focus could be on their grandparents. While there have been numerous studies done concerning teens, there is little to no insight on the long term affects of the older generations.

One thing that is for sure is that the continued legalization of this drug will bring untold affects to Americans of all ages. For the results, though, we can only wait and see.

Arizona Care Provider Launches Program to Help Seniors and Children With Driving Transition


A new program through Mesa-based senior care providers, Home Instead Senior Care, will focus on helping elderly parents and their children navigate a tough transition: handing over the car keys for good.

The loss of independence for the elderly can be particularly difficult, but a new initiative, dubbed “Let’s Talk About Driving,” aims to bring seniors and their children together to communicate openly about the dangers of senior driving. The program also provides tips on how to broach a tricky subject. Driving represents more than just a mode of transportation. It can often signify connection to the outside world, and can mean seniors have to face their own mortality — or at the very least, the knowledge that they can no longer do the things they once enjoyed.

“The idea of giving up driving completely sparks a range of emotions in senior drivers — everything from anger, to anxiety and loneliness,” said Home Instead Senior Care owner Mahnaz Pourian.

Luckily, the new program helps families facilitate the conversation, and acknowledges how important maintaining independence is for senior citizens.

In fact, the use of in home care actually helps seniors stay active and independent, compared to the care given in many institutions. It’s generally a less expensive and less extreme alternative to nursing homes, and its popularity is on the rise. Nearly 79% of those who need long-term care choose in home care or community living, rather than institutions.

Even those who can no longer drive can still enjoy many activities they love, and most in home care providers want to foster independence and keep seniors active for as long as feasibly possible.

Ohio Grandfather Accused of Drunk Driving After Crashing With Six-Year-Old Grandson in Car

A grandfather in Goshen, Ohio has been accused of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol after crashing his car while taking his six-year-old grandson to school.

Witnesses claimed that Dennis Plavsic was speeding down Garden Drive last week and slammed into a large concrete flowerpot. He was arrested for child endangerment and OVI.

Police discovered that this wasn’t Plavsic’s first drunk driving incident. His records showed that he had been arrested for three prior OVIs.

Plavsic denied any wrongdoing, saying that he would never put his grandson in danger. He claimed that the accident occurred when he turned around to check his grandson’s seatbelt.

“This morning it was just a freak accident is all it was,” he said. “By the time I turned back around, I hit the concrete thing up front. Because they smelled liquor on me from my dog spilling it on me from last night, they automatically assume I’ve been drinking.”

The accident took place just a few feet from a school bus stop where Sheilah Pertuset had been standing with her daughter.

“It was right after the bus had left,” she said. “We were still standing there, and this guy just went around the corner flying, lost control.”

She went on to say that Plavsic had appeared disoriented at the scene.

“He shouldn’t have been driving his little boy, no matter what,” Pertuset stated. “And then his little boy got out and he was crying and put his little hat over his head. It was scary because the kids were just there and you don’t know what could happen.”

The police tried to perform a breathalyzer test, but Plavsic couldn’t complete it. In fact, he’s never been able to complete one because of an alleged problem with his lungs.

According to Goshen police, the child is back home with his grandparents, but there is a plan in place for Children’s Services to meet with the family.

In Ohio, the sentence for OVI is typically a fine ranging from $250 to $1,000. Authorities have not disclosed the specific legal ramifications of Plavsic’s actions.

Workers’ Comp Costs Vary Greatly From State to State

In a study looking at 33 states, hospital rates for surgery, which are key factors in determining workers’ compensation rates, vary greatly across the nation.

The “Hospital Outpatient Payment Index: Interstate Variation and Policy Analysis,” covered 33 U.S. states and, with help from the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute, revealed that certain states with set fee schedules have much lower costs for injured workers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the nearly 3 million occupational illnesses and injuries in 2014, wholly 95.1% (2.8 million) were injuries. If the costs for each of these injuries greatly different from state to state so much, the location of these occupations and injuries plays an even more important role.

Insurance Business America reports that the states without a workers’ compensation fee schedule for hospital outpatient reimbursement have costs that are 63% and 150% higher than the average of the states in the median of the study.

“This report found that hospital outpatient payments per surgical episode varied significantly across states,” said Dr. Olesya Fomenko, co-author of the study and WCRI economist.

According to, public policymakers and hospital stakeholders throughout the country are taking a look at potential reform options after this study.

“We have included a comparison of workers’ compensation hospital outpatient payments and Medicare rates,” said Ramona Tanabe, executive vice president at WCRI. “Medicare rates capture payments to hospital outpatient providers for similar services by a large payor, and the report offers an additional benchmark that helps states better understand their hospital payments.”

The states included in this study are Nebraska, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina, Alabama, New York, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, California, Kentucky, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, Connecticut, Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

Recent Data Breaches Remind Internet Users to Change Passwords Regularly

Have you changed any of your online passwords lately? It’s probably not a bad idea to do so. Recently, e-mail address and password data from Dropbox, an online collaborative file hosting service, have been leaked from a 2012 data breach.

The data leak has sparked other companies to be cautious about their users’ personal information. Spotify, a music streaming service, recently reset the passwords of an unspecified number of users. Although Spotify released a statement that ensures that their records are still secure, they took precautionary measures. Another site’s data breach may have compromised some of the passwords of Spotify users if they are using the same password for both services.

Dropbox’s data is currently circulating on various sites and has affected an estimated 68 million users.

Opera, a browser, was recently hacked as well, and 1.7 million user passwords were compromised. While having a web browser “remember me” is often an enticing offer, this practice puts your personal information at a higher risk.

Eddie Bauer, Oracle, and BlueCross BlueShield all experienced data breaches in the past month, as well.

Luckily, both sets of stolen passwords were hashed. In other words, they have to be cracked in order to be used and read. Only the simplest passwords will be 100% compromised in most bcrypt hashes.

Multiple sites have been founded to track data breaches by compiling compromised information. Have I been pwned? is one of those sites. If you want to know if your email address has been compromised, you simply type it in. You can also subscribe to notifications just in case your account is compromised in the future.

Only eight percent of Internet users do not recycle passwords, and these individuals are probably at the lowest risk for data compromise. For those who do recycle passwords, you may want to stop now.