East Bay thieves using ‘sleight of hand’ to steal jewelry, police say. Here’s how their alleged scam works

Photo of Jessica Flores

File photo of police car lights. Union City police are searching for two people who have allegedly scammed victims by stealing their jewelry and replacing it with fakes.

File photo of police car lights. Union City police are searching for two people who have allegedly scammed victims by stealing their jewelry and replacing it with fakes.

Jacom Stephens/Getty Image

Union City police are searching for two people who have allegedly scammed victims by stealing their jewelry and replacing it with fakes.

The suspected thieves — a man and woman both believed to be in their 30s — allegedly stole jewelry from victims in three separate incidents on Jan. 13 and 14, Union City police said in a statement.

Police said the suspects offered and placed costume jewelry onto the victim’s necks and wrists. On all three occasions, police said the victims declined the jewelry and the suspects then used “confusion and sleight of hand” when removing it to take the victim’s authentic jewelry and watches.

Police said they believe the victims were possibly targeted because of their visible jewelry.

People were encouraged to be cautious when approached by strangers and to travel and walk in pairs or with small groups to protect themselves, police said.

Anyone who has been targeted in a similar incident or have witnessed a similar event were asked to contact the police department’s tip line at 510-675-5207 or by emailing [email protected].

Jessica Flores is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:
[email protected]

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Christmas packing tips: The ‘cheeky’ tip to beat hand luggage rules when travelling | Travel News | Travel

Christmas packing tips: The ‘cheeky’ tip to beat hand luggage rules when travelling | Travel News | Travel – ToysMatrix

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Christmas packing tips: The ‘cheeky’ tip to beat hand luggage rules when travelling | Travel News | Travel

Travel rules may have tightened around the world, but many people are still jetting off to reunite with loved ones after long stretches of time apart. Though rules to do with Covid are constantly changing, one thing that is likely to remain the same is the baggage restrictions put in place by individual airlines.

Make sure you understand the hand luggage rules for your carrier

Hand luggage rules vary vastly from airline to airline, with some allowing larger or heavier bags to be brought onboard than others.

This is why Mr Ewart says it is vital you understand exactly what your airline permits before beginning the packing process.

He said: “Firstly, double-check with your airline what size of hand luggage you are allowed.

“Many of us may be flying this Christmas for the first time in a while and what some people may have missed is that over the last couple of years airlines, such as easyJet and Ryanair, have stopped including traditional sized hand luggage with their basic fares.

“Fliers are often surprised to find their ticket now only includes a small bag which fits under the seat in front.”

In the event your hand luggage is too big, your airline may require you to pay to check it in.

Ryanair, for example, will charge between £23.99 and £35.99 for those who need to check-in a 10kg back at the last minute.

This cost grows to between £39.99 and £59.99 if the bag weighs more than 20kg.

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Carry your gifts in a shopping bag

When it comes to December travel, Christmas presents could be the items that are tipping your baggage over the scale.

While paying for additional luggage is certainly one option, for a smaller amount of gifts, Mr Ewart let Express.co.uk in on a rather “cheeky” tip.

He said: “It’s a bit cheeky, but if you’re bringing new but unwrapped items as gifts, why not carry them through the airport in a shopping bag belonging to a shop you know is in the airport?”

Pack outfits you can wear more than once

During the Christmas season, it can be tempting to go overboard with party wear. While this may offer diversity for your festive photoshoots, it’s likely to weigh heavily on your luggage allowance.

This is where a capsule-style wardrobe can come in.

Mr Ewart said: “Consider travelling with items that have duplicate purposes, rather than packing pyjamas, shorts or t-shirts used in bed could also be used for travel or for a workout.”

He added: “If you’re packing spare shoes, the space inside can offer protection for smaller items or be filled with socks.”

Don’t go overboard on cosmetics and toiletries

Toiletries and make-up, even when below the 100ml guidelines, can add unnecessary weight to your hand luggage.

Mr Ewart said: “If you’re going for more than a few days and are checking luggage, don’t pack shampoos and shower gels – buy after you fly.

“If you’re travelling to a hotel you may not even need to buy shampoo and shower gel.”

Even if your airline does not weigh cabin bags, though, make-up and perfume bottles can take up a chunk of space.

Instead, Mr Ewart advises portioning out exactly how much you need and using travel-size containers.

The expert explained: “If you’re only travelling for a few days, instead of carrying a makeup bag, put foundation and similar cosmetics in old contact lenses cases.”

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Safety First – The tools at hand

As the business travel sector finally begins to emerge from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, we look at the practical resources available to organisations to keep on top of these responsibilities – both before the trip and while on the road.

A plethora of tools and resources are currently accessible to organisations, and one of the first steps is to establish which of these services are most suitable for the type of travel – and the level of risk – being taken by travellers.

“There are many technical tools on the market, specifically when it comes to centralising itinerary management, traveller location and communication,” explains Suzanne Sangiovese, commercial and communications director at Riskline.

Pre-trip options include services such as traveller briefings and expert guidance on destinations, which are designed to flag up potential health, security and safety issues. Many suppliers produce “risk maps” covering countries and regions so users can assess the level of potential danger to their employees.

Healix, for example, has recently launched its Sentinel Protect subscription service offering ‘bespoke’ risk intelligence, analysis and proactive reporting, which has been developed to “mitigate risks before they become problematic”.

There are also medical tools to ensure employees are ‘fit to travel’ and whether they need to take any vaccines or medicines before going to certain destinations – a factor that’s become even more important during Covid times.

“Employees should be empowered to take responsibility of their own safety, being provided with all the information and guidance required ahead of the trip,” says James Wood, head of security solutions at International SOS.

On-trip tools are the other key component, where travellers receive the latest medical and security advice while on the road, usually through a smartphone app, as well as access to emergency 24/7 phone lines to help them, if necessary.

When an incident occurs, such as a terrorist attack, civil unrest or natural disaster, tracking capabilities allow travellers in a designated area to be quickly located and contacted. This can take the form of ‘pushing’ messages to travellers, via an app, so they can respond at the push of a button to say they are ok.

In extreme circumstances, services can also extend to offering ground support and evacuation assistance to travellers, which are typically provided by security specialists.

Being able to locate travellers who may be affected by a security or health incident is crucial in the duty of care playbook.

TMCs are in a vital position to help clients in locating their travellers in an emergency, often working hand-in-hand with a security specialist, as they should have the travel data to be able to find travellers quickly, providing they have booked through corporate tools.

Identifying potential risks before travel and within the booking process itself is becoming a wider part of TMCs’ services, alongside support to travellers on the road.

Shelley Mathews, general manager – sales, EMEA, at CTM, says the TMC uses maps to assess the level of risks in destinations before travel.

“The more reactive side is pushing out alerts to the travel manager, booker and traveller if something happens in a location they’re in or travelling to,” she adds.

“We’re doing more on the proactive side by serving up risk levels and alerts inside the booking flow, so travellers are aware before they book and trips also aren’t booked unnecessarily.”

Just knowing where your travellers are is a key component to improving duty of care, and a compelling reason for employees to book through the kind of corporate booking tools offered by TMCs and others.

One of the most difficult decisions for organisations is whether to use a specialist security provider – often their TMC will have an existing relationship with one of these firms which can make the process easier.

“If you have the necessary bandwidth and level of expertise internally, it may be possible for you to then implement and manage your own travel risk management (TRM) programme, especially if you have a manageable number of travellers who predominantly travel to stereotypically ‘safe’ regions,” says Matthew Judge, group managing director of Anvil Group.

But even if an organisation believes its employees travel almost entirely to ‘lower risk’ destinations, serious incidents can happen anywhere.

“I wouldn’t suggest a company only involve specialists if they are travelling to higher risk destinations. Crises and risks, large and small, can surface anywhere – the pandemic showed us this exactly,” adds Riskline’s Suzanne Sangiovese.

Chris Job, director of risk management services at Healix, advises organisations to get security firms “involved as early as possible to design and develop a comprehensive programme” to assess the risk to travellers, before deciding if an ongoing relationship is necessary.

“Businesses can then assess which of those risks they are willing to tolerate without any security provision and engage with a specialist security provider for the risks that do need to be treated,” adds Job.

For organisations who don’t feel the services of a security specialist are appropriate, affordable or necessary, there are a host of free resources available in this arena.

These include extensive updates and advice from national and international organisations, such as the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US. The World Health Organization (WHO) also offers information on a global scale.

There are also consumer-facing live tracking apps which can potentially be used by corporates, although they are obviously not backed up by any professional risk management support.

Several security companies offer some publicly available free content in the form of blogs, webinars and white papers, which can be useful in helping companies to assess their level of risk and take some practical steps to mitigating them.

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TikTok hand gesture leads to Kentucky officers rescuing NC teen

Laurel County Police said a person reported a tip of a girl using a hand gesture made popular on TikTok led to the arrest. She was reported missing Nov. 2.

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A man was arrested after a 16-year-old girl who was reported to be missing was found in his car. The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said they were able to arrest the man after a tip was received of a girl giving hand gestures to represent domestic violence made popular from TikTok.

The sheriff’s office confirmed the arrest of 61-year-old James Brick happened on I-75 at KY 80 Nov. 4. Police said the person who reported the tip was behind Brick’s car. 

As Brick continued to travel on I-75, the person followed him giving officers an update on the location and description of his car.

Investigators positioned themselves at an exit in London to wait for the suspect vehicle and were advised by the tipster the vehicle was exiting the interstate. Laurel Sheriff’s detectives and deputies conducted a traffic stop and an investigation on its occupants.

It was learned through the girl had been reported missing by her parents out of Asheville, North Carolina. The girl told investigators she had gotten with Brick and traveled through multiple states.

During the investigation deputies also located a phone in the possession of Brick allegedly portraying another girl in a sexual manner. 

James Brick has been charged with unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18. 

He is currently being held at the Laurel County correctional center. The investigation is ongoing.

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I Traveled to Paris, COVID Health Pass in Hand — What to Know Before Your Trip

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Gary Sanchez has hand injury after being struck by foul tip

Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez was removed from Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rays before the bottom of the fifth inning, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com was among those to relay. Sánchez was struck in the right hand by a foul tip in the prior inning. While he stayed in the game to take his next plate appearance, Sánchez was replaced by Kyle Higashioka thereafter.

Sánchez has been diagnosed with a contusion on his index and middle fingers, but X-rays came back negative, via Hoch. He is currently listed as day-to-day, but if it does require him to miss time, Higashioka would figure to pick up the bulk of the playing time behind the dish. Those two are the only catchers on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, so another move would be forthcoming if Sánchez isn’t able to make an immediate return to action.

Rob Brantly and Robinson Chirinos are both in the organization on minor-league deals, but the latter remains on the mend from surgery to repair a wrist fracture last month. That seemingly suggests Brantly is next in line should additional catching depth be required in the Bronx.

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Yankees’ Gary Sánchez Leaves Game After Taking Foul Tip Off Right Hand

Through the first two-plus weeks of the regular season, Gary Sánchez has been one of the Yankees’ most reliable contributors at the plate.

After taking a foul tip off his right hand in the fourth inning on Saturday, leaving the game with a contusion on his right index and middle fingers, New York’s backstop is listed as day-to-day.

Rays right fielder Randy Arozarena got a piece of a 1-1 changeup from left-hander Jordan Montgomery, sending a foul ball down to Sánchez’s lap. The backstop was resting his right hand below the belt, taking the foul tip squarely off his hand.

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Masks, hand sanitizer and more

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against non-essential travel — even if you’re fully vaccinated — but sometimes travel is unavoidable. I’ve traveled back and forth between my university and hometown throughout the past year during holiday breaks. And after researching the best safety practices to abide by while traveling during the pandemic, I got over my fear, including having to sit very close to a stranger for over two hours on a plane.

I also drove from New York to Chicago in the fall before school started. I packed my own snacks and drinks in a cooler so I wouldn’t have to purchase any along the way. Rest stops were generally empty, and anyone inside wore masks (I only traveled through states with mask mandates in place). I used hand sanitizer frequently, and bought an anti-touch door opener that’s also useful to press elevator buttons and punch numbers into a keypad.

Despite the success of my road trip, I couldn’t drive across the country in the winter when ice and snow covered roads — I had to get on a plane for the first time in a year. As I began reading studies about air travel during the pandemic, I learned that physically being on the plane poses little risk to my health so long as proper safety procedures are followed — including wearing a mask. Research about Covid-19 and plane travel from Harvard University’s Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI) found that, with proper precautions, “the risk of transmission onboard an aircraft is below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out.”

If you have to travel during the pandemic, we compiled some of the best face masks to wear, as well as other items that might be useful to take with you on your journey. We also broke down the CDC’s guidance on precautions to take while traveling, and how safe it is to fly right now in the first place.

Best masks to wear while traveling

In January, the CDC issued an order requiring masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the U.S. Masks are also required in U.S. transportation hubs like airports, train stations and bus stations. Keeping in mind expert guidance we’ve previously reported on regarding double masking, KN95 masks and other types of face coverings, here are some of the best masks to wear on a plane.

1. WellBefore KN95 Face Mask

WellBefore’s KN95 masks are registered with the Food and Drug Administration and underwent laboratory testing to ensure they filter 95 percent of particulate. They feature five layers of non-woven fabric, an adjustable nose clip and elastic ear loops. The masks are individually wrapped so you can put them in your bag without worrying about them getting dirty. In addition to this White KN95 mask, WellBefore also sells kids KN95 masks.

2. HaloLIFE Face Mask

HaloLIFE’s face masks meet ASTM International face mask standard. The masks are designed with adjustable ear loops and an adjustable nose clip, as well as a chin wrap to prevent gaps between the mask and the skin. Masks come with a replaceable HALO Nanofilter that’s effective for up to 200 hours, as well as a replaceable latex nose pad. They’re available in colors like Black, Bright Blue, Pink, White and Mint Green, and are sold in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large.

3. WeCare Individually Wrapped Disposable Face Masks

When I travel, I wear one of these disposable masks under a reusable face mask. They’re individually wrapped, made from three layers of non-woven fabric and feature elastic ear loops and an adjustable nose clip. Masks come in a pack of 50 and are available in a variety of colors and patterns. WeCare also sells kids disposable face masks.

Face masks and alternatives to wear on public transportation, according to the CDC

The CDC states that manufactured and homemade masks can both be worn on public transit and in public transportation hubs, as long as they fit properly. Reusable, disposable and medical-grade masks, as well as respirators like N95 and KN95 masks, are all permitted. Gaiters can be worn, too, as long as they are made from two layers of fabric or can be folded to make two layers. And while travelers can wear face shields or goggles while traveling, they cannot be used to supplement a mask. Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas and bandannas cannot be worn as mask substitutes. All travelers over 2 years old must adhere to these mask guidelines no matter how long or short they will be in transit for.

According to the CDC, masks you wear on public transportation should:

  • Completely covers the nose and mouth
  • Be made with two or more layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric
  • Be secured to the head with ties, ear loops or elastic bands that go behind the head
  • Fit tightly against the side of the face
  • Be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves or punctures

Other products to travel with during the pandemic

  • Hand sanitizer: If you don’t have access to soap and water, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol. In addition to bringing travel-sized containers on the plane, the TSA is allowing passengers to bring one oversized liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 oz. per passenger in carry-on bags.
  • Disinfectant wipes: While public transportation is cleaned frequently, I always wipe down my seat, seat belt and armrests for peace of mind.
  • Water bottle: Pulling your mask down while eating or drinking is permitted on public transportation. I bring my own water bottle on the plane, train and subway, as well as bring an empty water bottle to the airport to fill up before I board. I like the Que collapsible water bottle since it doesn’t take up a lot of room in my bag.
  • Reusable straw: I take a reusable straw with me while traveling to put any cup or bottle I’m drinking out of. I can slip the straw under my mask to drink and thus don’t have to completely remove my mask from my face.
  • Stasher Bags: Instead of buying snacks at the airport or at rest stops while on a road trip, I pack food in Stasher Bags beforehand.
  • Thermometer: I got in the habit of taking my temperature every morning at school, and I always keep this no-touch infrared thermometer with me while traveling (just in case).

How safe is traveling by plane during the pandemic?

The U.S. has recently seen an uptick in air travel, despite cautions from the CDC. The TSA screened 1.357 million U.S. airport passengers on March 12, the highest number screened since March 15, 2020 — On March 21, it screened more than 1.5 million people. Experts say an increase in air travel specifically may stem from students across the country going on spring break, and people feeling safe to take public transportation again after being fully vaccinated.

Whatever the case may be, APHI’s study showed that traveling by plane is generally safe so long as travelers and airlines follow safety precautions. Travelers should physically distance, wear face coverings at all times (except while eating and drinking), avoid touching surfaces as much as possible and sanitize their hands. For airlines, consistent use of ventilation systems on planes while boarding, deplaning and in flight is essential. Disinfecting surfaces like tray tables and seats frequently is also important.

According to research by Boeing, as well as the military’s U.S. Transportation Command, a plane’s cabin environment significantly reduces and removes cough particles from the air. This is because the air in a plane’s cabin primarily flows from ceiling to floor, not front to back. The air inside the cabin is exchanged every two to three minutes with outside air through HEPA filters, which are similar to those used in hospital operating rooms. Taking this into account, the research shows that the design of a plane’s cabin and its airflow system create the equivalent of more than 7 feet of physical distance between every passenger — even on a full flight.

APHI also conducted research about Covid-19 mitigation efforts at airports. It found the overall strategy to decrease transmission is similar to aircraft efforts: ventilation, disinfection and cleaning procedures, as well as traveler behavior like face mask wearing, hand-hygiene, and physical distancing.

Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Helping hand: Postdoc helps establish conference travel grant

By Jennifer Micale

February 18, 2021

Adriane Lam laid the foundation for her future scientific career when she was still an undergraduate, thanks to her first academic conference.

Not only was she able to present her own research, she forged crucial connections with established scholars, who became advisors years down the road during her master’s and doctoral programs. Conferences are an important part of the academic ecosystem, giving scholars, industry professionals and science communicators the opportunity to come together and share data, teaching strategies, new initiatives and more.

They are also expensive to attend — which can put them out of reach for students already struggling to pay their bills.

Now a Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in Binghamton University’s Geological Sciences program, Lam is looking to make conferences more accessible to students and amateur scientists alike through the Tilly Edinger Travel Grant for Students and Avocational Scientists established through the educational outreach website Time Scavengers. The grant’s first eight recipients will be announced this month.

It turns out we had the funds to support all eight of our applicants this cycle, which was really exciting!” Lam said. “All of our awardees are students who hold one or multiple underrepresented identities, and are located all over the world.”

Time Scavengers

Lam co-founded Time Scavengers as a graduate student, with the goal of making science accessible to a broad audience, including those with no formal scientific training.

At the time, she was taking a fascinating class at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on climate change that clearly broke down the issue. But when she followed coverage of the 2016 presidential elections that year, she was shocked by the misinformation and disinformation surrounding the topic.

“Over the course of a few weeks, I began to think of how useful it would be if folks had information available to them to understand climate change in a digestible format, much like it was taught to me in the class I was taking,” she said.

She texted her friend and colleague Jennifer Bauer, currently research museum collection manager at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Paleontology. She immediately texted back with an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Today, Time Scavengers features more than 40 information pages in five major categories, giving readers insight into key geological concepts, access to resources for educators of all levels and additional resources where readers can dive more deeply into topics of interest. The Climate Change and Evolution pages are the site’s “meat and potatoes,” with six pages on each major topic, Lam said. She plans to expand with more content for Time Scavengers’ growing online community.

The site also has six blogs intended to give a behind-the-scenes view of science, covering such topics as fieldwork, community engagement and how scientists gather and interpret data. One blog, Meet the Scientist, was specifically created to showcase the diversity of the scientific community and show the varied paths people take to enter the field.

“Twice a month, we feature scientists — professional and avocational/amateur — at all career stages and from all backgrounds,” Lam said.

In addition to Lam and Bauer, 15 site collaborators help write the blogs, create page content and serve on committees. They include avocational and amateur paleontologists, museum curators, students, postdocs and professors from a diverse array of backgrounds.

Time Scavengers has also branched out into other endeavors, such as a summer science communications internship created by collaborator Dr. Sarah Sheffield for University of South Florida undergraduates. Their latest initiative is the Tilly Edinger travel grant, which is intended to improve accessibility in the fields of paleontology, paleoclimatology/paleoceanography and climate research.

“We know there is a diversity problem in STEM, especially in the geosciences,” Lam acknowledged.

Unlike similar grants, the Tilly Edinger Travel Grant pays for conference costs up front rather than through reimbursement and all conference attendees are eligible — not just those presenting data. It’s also one of the few grants available to avocational and amateur scientists, who play an important role in the geosciences; often, they’re the ones out in the field, finding new fossil locations, Lam said.

Applications are also ranked to prioritize support for applicants with identities historically excluded or underrepresented in the geosciences. Time Scavengers hopes to have two or three rounds of funding per year to support travel and attendance at as many conferences as possible.

Due to the pandemic, most conferences have shifted to the digital realm. As a result, this year’s Tilly Edinger grant will cover abstract fees, conference registration costs, and the cost for students and avocational scientists to join the society or foundation that sponsors the event, either online or in person.

Lam is a first-generation academic from a lower-income background herself. She worked part-time at a retail job to save for college, but rent quickly whittled away at her paycheck, forcing her to take out loans for her education. Thankfully, her university covered 100 percent of conference travel costs for undergraduates.

“The money I would have spent on conferences was needed to pay for other living expenses such as groceries and gas. Had it not been for conference support, I would not have had this experience at all during a critical phase of my education,” she said. “Many folks I know who share my backgrounds with me have had similar difficulties affording conferences, which are critical for career development.”

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