Beware of the Date Rape Drug Rohypnol

July 21, 2007

Rohypnol is a brand name for flunitrazepam (a benzodiazepine), a very strong tranquilizer similar to valium (diazepam), but many times more potent. Rohypnol produces a sedative effect, amnesia, muscle relaxation, and a slowing of psychomotor responses. The effects usually start within 20-30 minutes and lasts for several hours. The drug is often distributed on the street in it’s original bubble packaging which adds an air of legitimacy and makes it appear to be legal.

It is known by several street names: Roachies, La Roche, Rope, Rib, Roche, Rophies, Roofies, Ruffies, Mexican valium, or the “forget (me) pill.” Rohypnol is especially dangerous because it is inexpensive and can cost as little as $1 per pill. This makes it popular in high schools, college campuses, clubs, bars, and at private parties.

Rohypnol became famous because it can cause memory blackouts with periods of memory loss that follow ingestion of the drug with alcohol. Victims who have been raped with Rohypnol have reported waking up in strange rooms, with or without clothing, bruises on their body, etc., but they have no memory of the previous night.

A Common Scenario:

* The victim is at a party or bar and has something to drink. The attacker somehow slips a Rohypnol tablet into the liquid – perhaps when the victim turns their head or leaves their drink to go to the bathroom. Rohypnol tablets are white and are single or cross-scored on one side with ROCHE and 1 or 2 encircled on the other.

* About twenty minutes after finishing their drink, the victim begins to feel very disoriented, or drunk. Victims of Rohypnol have often only had one or two drinks, and they remember feeling much more drunk than they should have been.

* The attacker volunteers to escort the sick or drunk person home. Once out of the public eye, the attacker may take the victim to a hotel, to the victim’s home, or to other places.

* Several hours later, the victim wakes up feeling very disoriented. They can’t remember what happened after they left the party, but they may find evidence that something was done to their body while they were asleep.

* Many victims raped under the influence of Rohypnol are unsure whether or not they were raped, because they have no memory of the event. It can take several days to piece together a story from eyewitness reports.

* Rohypnol has been used to rape both men and women.

What Rohypnol Looks and Feels Like:

* Rohypnol is similar to Valium but about 10 times as strong. In Europe and South America, it is a prescription drug used as a preanesthetic agent and as a potent sedative.

* Rohypnol comes as a small pill that can be dropped into the drink of an unsuspecting victim. The pill can dissolve in either alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and the drug is odorless and tasteless.

* Initially, Rohypnol causes muscle relaxation, dizziness, and headaches, slows psychomotor responses, and lowers inhibitions. Victims may have difficulty moving or speaking. Victims often remember the effects of the drug as a feeling of being drunk. Rohypnol takes 20-30 minutes to take effect.

* Rohypnol has a synergistic effect with alcohol. When taken with alcohol, Rophypnol can cause severe disorientation and a loss of memory. These memory blackouts are typically 8-12 hours long. The victim may or may not appear awake during this time.

* Victims often feel nauseous the day after they have received Rohypnol.

* Rohypnol is a physically addictive drug. Repeated use will lead to addiction.

* There are multiple forms of the drug on the market. The original tablets, marketed by the pharmaceutical company Hoffman La Roche, look like aspirin and dissolve rapidly in liquid. In response to widespread abuse of this drug, Hoffman La Roche changed the tablets; the new tablets dissolve more slowly and will turn a drink blue. “Copycat” flunitrazepam tablets have also been produced by pharmaceutical companies in South Africa, South America, and possibly Egypt. The copycat tablets are reddish-brown to white and dissolve well in liquids.

* Rohypnol can be found in large urban areas and even in rural areas. The drug is most common in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S., where there have been several widely publicized seizures and rape cases.

* A less common use of Rohypnol: the tablets are crushed, often mixed with other drugs, and snorted. This route of administration is more common for recreational drug users than for rapists.

Legal Considerations:

* There is a urine test for Rohypnol. However, the drug can only be detected for up to 72 hours after ingestion. If you or a friend think you have been raped with Rohypnol, it is important to get a urine test as soon as possible. Rape crisis centers and the police are best equipped to handle any testing.

* A urine test that is performed without police intervention may be thrown out in court. This is because the legal system requires the prosecution to show “chain of custody” of the urine sample- to prove that the sample came from the victim and could not have been mixed up with anyone else’s urine.

* Rohypnol is illegal in the United States. According to the Drug Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996, it is a crime to give a controlled substance to anyone, without their knowledge, with the intent of committing a violent crime (such as rape). Violation of this law is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

* There has been much talk of reclassifying Rohypnol into the same legal category as LSD (a Class I controlled substance), which would greatly increase the penalties for possession, but this has not yet happened.

* Hoffmann-LaRoche has established toll-free numbers to provide information on Rohypnol and instructions for drug testing. The general information number is (800) 720-1076.

Reducing Your Risk:

* Never leave your drink unattended. If you have to go to the bathroom, either finish your drink or throw it away.

* Beverages that come in sealed containers (unopened cans or bottles) are much safer than mixed drinks.

* If you order a mixed drink, watch the person who mixes it.

* Do not take any open beverages, including alcohol, from someone you do not know well and trust.

* Never drink anything out of a common punch bowl.

* If someone offers to buy you a drink, go up to the bar with them to accept the drink.

* Subscribe to the “buddy system”. Always party with one or more friends, and keep an eye on each other. If someone begins to appear too drunk, get them to a safe place. Many attempted Rohypnol rapes have been prevented by watchful friends.


Shoplifter Detention and Use of Force – Proper Methods to Detain a Thief

July 4, 2007

Each year shoplifting incidents are estimated to cost retail merchants in the United States well over $12 billion in losses. Since most retail stores operate on very narrow profit margins, those shoplifting losses can mean the difference between profit, loss and even bankruptcy.

Merchants sometimes use store detectives or security personnel in an effort to curb shoplifting losses. Most of the security personnel come armed with the standard arsenal of security equipment such as pepper spray, batons, stun guns, hand cuffs, etc. Unfortunately, some merchants, their employees, and any security personnel (in-house or contract) are untrained, or under-trained in the proper handling of shoplifting incidents. As a result, often store employees or security personnel take actions or make mistakes that lead to increasingly large legal liabilities and negative publicity for their employer, and sometimes personally for themselves.

In May 1999, the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) issued the first in a series of Best Practices dealing with various security issues. The best practices meld together the best practices employed by industry leaders with those recommended by independent security experts. The results were then peer-reviewed by others within the industry. Part of that first best practice, titled Detaining Shoplifting Suspects, is reproduced here (with permission):

Detaining Shoplifting Suspects

Definition: As used [herein], the term “security person(s)” is intended to include only store proprietors and managers, store plainclothes security agents sometimes called “detectives,” and uniformed security officers also called security guards (either proprietary or contract). The term does not include sales clerks, maintenance persons, or stockers, for examples. The term “security person(s)” is not intended to apply to off-duty public law enforcement or special police personnel unless they have been instructed by store management to follow the same procedures required of ordinary citizens, which procedures do not include police powers of arrest.

In almost all jurisdictions in the United States, merchants are legally empowered to detain shoplifting suspects for investigation and possible arrest and prosecution in the criminal justice system. This power is called “merchant’s privilege.”

  • The merchant’s privilege provides for detention of persons suspected of shoplifting only when probable cause or reasonable cause exists to believe a person has committed theft. The best practice for establishing this probable cause (as compared to any legal standard) is the security person’s having met all the following six steps: (1) observe the customer approach the merchandise, (2) observe the customer select the merchandise, (3) observe the customer conceal (or otherwise carry away) the merchandise, (4) keep the customer under constant and uninterrupted observation, (5) see the customer fail to pay for the merchandise, and (6) detain the customer outside the store.
  • The merchant’s privilege permits detention for limited purposes which vary by state. Common among these limited purposes are: (1) ascertaining that stolen merchandise is possessed by the suspect, (2) identifying the suspect, (3) investigating the alleged theft, (4) recovering stolen merchandise, and (5) notifying the police of the offense. Some states permit limited searches of the suspect, some states limit the extent to which identity may be established; and the use of force which can legally be used is, if mentioned, always non-deadly. Many company or store policies further restrict permissible actions in dealing with shoplifting suspects; e.g., prohibiting pursuing suspects beyond company property.

In some circumstances shoplifting suspects are treated incorrectly by store management and security persons. Such treatment may cause results varying from simple mistakes to the violation of civil rights of suspects. If a best practice is not used, it is better not to detain a suspect than to risk the high cost of a civil liability suit. Two kinds of questionable detentions will illustrate this point. One kind applies to the customer who is truly an innocent party but whose conduct, for any number of reasons, led the security person to believe that a theft had occurred. People in this kind of detention are innocent victims of circumstance. The other kind applies to the customer who is not truly an innocent party, but for any number of reasons is not in possession of stolen merchandise when stopped by a security person.

Security persons usually do not actually “arrest” shoplifters, but simply detain them for police authorities. Exceptions arise to this practice in those states where private persons’ arrest powers exist concurrent with but separate from the “privilege” statutes discussed above. In these exceptional cases, security persons arrest after proof of the offense of theft.

Security persons cannot look into the minds of suspects. Security persons can only observe actions of suspects and completely and accurately report such actions. It is up to a judge or trier of fact to determine intent to deprive a merchant permanently of a taken item …. Step number 6 [detaining the customer outside the store] exists to help the judge or trier of fact determine the intent of the customer because the cash registers inside a store are normally the last place a person would have to pay for an item before departing a store. Reports by security persons are normally detailed enough to include other observations which would tend to establish intent.

The International Association of Professional Security Consultants, Inc. (IAPSC) has examined the methods of detaining suspects recommended by security professionals and practiced by merchants throughout the United States. IAPSC sets forth below what it believes to be the best practices.

Best Practices

  • Practice. Security persons using best practices detain a suspect only if they have personally seen the suspect approach the merchandise.
    Rationale. The suspect may have entered the store with the merchandise already in hand or otherwise on or about their person (say, in a shopping bag or purse).
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices detain a suspect only if they have personally observed the suspect select or take possession of, or conceal the merchandise.
    Rationale. Security persons trust their own eyes and do not rely on reports by others.
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices detain a suspect only if they have observed the suspect with the merchandise continually from the point of selection to the point where the suspect has gone beyond the last checkout station without paying for the item. If the surveillance has been broken, or if the person has gotten rid of the merchandise, the security person breaks off following for that offense, but may continue surveillance if it appears the suspect may commit theft again.
    Rationale. The suspect may have “ditched” the merchandise or concealed it. By continually observing the suspect, the security person can observe whether or not the suspect still has the merchandise even if it has been concealed on the suspect’s person.
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices detain a suspect outside the store after the suspect has passed the last checkout station and has failed to pay for an item of merchandise. At this point security persons using this best practice immediately investigate to verify or refute a suspect’s claim of innocence. Special care and consideration is exercised when merchandise is displayed for sale outside the store, such as garden supplies, sidewalk sales, etc., or which is displayed for sale inside the store, but beyond the last sales point.
    Rationale. The security person does not do only what is required to meet the minimum requirements of theft laws. The actions of a suspect make it easier to prove intent to deprive the merchant of an item of merchandise. The farther from the actual taking a suspect is detained, the clearer the offense will appear to a judge or trier of fact. The security person is aware of suspects who might claim they were looking for a matching item or looking for someone to give an opinion on the merchandise before it is purchased. A suspect may, however, offer a logical explanation for actions that initially appeared to the security person to be acts of shoplifting, but which may require only a limited investigation to verify the suspect’s explanation.
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices normally do not “chase” suspects by running inside a store or in shopping centers that are occupied by customers. Exceptions occur when necessary, but only in such areas as parking lots, and then only when few people are in the area and it is unlikely a bystander could get hurt. Such foot pursuits never leave the property on which the store is located. If a suspect runs, the best practice is for the security person to make a mental note of the appearance of the suspect and the merchandise that appears to have been taken; then to make a written report for the store’s files.
    Rationale. Running may create more problems than it solves. When a suspect runs and a security person chases that person by also running, clients and employees of the store and store employees are endangered more by the combination of two persons’ running, than by the suspects running alone. Handicapped clients may be knocked off their feet. Wheelchairs may be overturned. Store employees who may intervene to help may be injured by security persons in pursuit, or by running into counters or display devices, or by slipping on polished floors. When clerks leave their posts, they leave their own merchandise exposed to theft. An exception to this best practice may exist when it is necessary to chase a suspect down in order to protect customers and store employees from ongoing violence by the suspect.
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices treat suspects equally and fairly regardless of a suspects race, color, creed, gender, or national origin.
    Rationale. Anecdotal information suggests certain groups have been marked by some store management and security persons for more surveillance and/or more aggressive anti-shoplifting measures. Color, religious or national dress, gender, and “race” are alleged to have been used to identify persons in such groups. However, there is no scientific evidence regarding the validity of such “profiling,” and this practice is avoided by security persons using best practices. Suspicion of shoplifting depends upon observed actions, not appearance. All law-abiding persons have the right to be treated the same as any other person in the marketplace.
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices do not use weapons such as firearms, batons (“nightsticks”), or restraining devices such as thumb cuffs, “come-alongs,” mace, or pepper spray in order to apprehend or detain a shoplifting suspect. Stores using best practices occasionally permit the use of handcuffs by security persons whose training has included instruction in the proper use of handcuffs when necessary to prevent injury to customers or store personnel. Security persons using best practices use handcuffs only when a suspected shoplifter is physically threatening violence or otherwise resisting detention; or there is, in the good judgment of the security person, the risk of imminent serious harm absent their use.
    Rationale. There is no merchandise of such value that it warrants a security person’s injuring a suspect or an innocent customer. Use of weapons and restraining devices except handcuffs should be left to on-duty public law enforcement officers. If it is not possible to get the suspect’s willing cooperation, it is better to let the suspect go free than to risk injuring a suspect or other customer. Risk avoidance is a factor considered in apprehending and detaining suspects. Because handcuffs are restraining devices, they can be painful if improperly applied and can cause injury. Not all persons caught need restraining. Many people caught shoplifting are humiliated by the incident and are cooperative; hence, in such cases restraint is not necessary.
  • Practice. Security persons using best practices limit the use of force to “holding” or “restraining” to effect a detention. Security persons using best practices do not use actions such as striking, tackling, sitting on a suspect’s body, or any other action that might cause physical injury to the suspect.
    Rationale. Use of force is subject to criticism, and assaultive use of force is typically unnecessary and unacceptable in the private sector. However, some holding or restraining may be necessary lest potential thieves learn that by simply resisting they may come and steal with impunity. Use of limited holding or restraining force is sometimes necessary to detain a suspect until police arrive, or to prevent a suspect from injuring security persons. Under no circumstances should the force applied be that which may result in injury or death to a suspect. No merchandise is of such value as to justify physical injury to a suspect. The better practice is to allow the suspect to depart the premises rather than to cause any injury by the use of force in detaining the suspect. Assuming the suspect can be identified, the merchant can file a complaint; then the public police have the option of apprehending the suspect at a later time.


In addition to the Best Practices listed above, which are the best procedures to use in most circumstances, I also recommend that a minimum of two trained employees be utilized in every suspected shoplifter detainment, also referred to as a “stop.” The best rule of thumb is to use at least one more employee than there are suspected shoplifters. This is not only to ensure the safety of the security personnel, but also to ensure that there is at least one trained witness to what occurs and what is said, from the first moment of the “stop,” until its conclusion.

Where practical, loss prevention personnel should be provided with badge and/or photo-identification card identifying them as security personnel for that store or company. They should display their I.D. card and/or badge when making a stop. Regardless of whether or not they have a badge or card, at the beginning of any stop they should verbally identify themselves as security personnel before doing or saying anything else. (Other store personnel should identify themselves as “store manager” or whatever is appropriate). Grabbing a suspect without warning before identifying themselves, especially if the person is grabbed from the side or from behind, creates a situation that may provoke a violent response from startled persons.

Use of force is the area most likely to lead to lawsuits and to create a bad public image for merchants, damaging their reputation or brand. In the heat of the moment, it is easy for employees or other security or loss prevention personnel to fall into the trap of wanting to catch the thief, and get the merchandise back at all costs! However, self-defense excepted, nothing is so valuable in the store as to risk injury to employees or to customers, or the risk of subsequent bad publicity, and the possibility of a lawsuit for using “excessive” or “unneeded” force.

Likewise, chasing a fleeing shoplifter through the store or parking lot traffic, especially if he or she has already dropped the merchandise, is an invitation for someone to be injured, frequently resulting in a lawsuit against the store or employee. Offensive punching, kicking, tackling, and dragging suspects is always inappropriate and should be prohibited by management. Note that sometimes grabbing a suspect or holding him, including holding him down is necessary for self-defense or defense of others, but such actions should be limited in scope and defensive and holding in nature. Use of force should never exceed the amount of force being used or being attempted by the suspect. Caution and discretion are always the best approach in this area. If management authorizes the use of any more force than simple guiding or touching restraint, (e.g., the use of “come-along” holds, the use of pepper-spray, etc.), the officers should be trained in such tactics by a certified instructor, and that advanced training should be documented. As one government agency frequently states about training, “If it isn’t documented, it didn’t occur.”

Likewise, only security personnel who have been trained and periodically re–trained in their use should be permitted to carry and use handcuffs. Handcuffs have sometimes been used as weapons, and, when improperly applied, they have led to serious injuries and, in some cases, deaths. Reasonable policy dictates that handcuffs are used only to restrain a shoplifter who has used force against the merchant or employee, or otherwise physically resisted detention, or, once detained, has verbally threatened to use force. In every case for which handcuffs are used, their use must be reasonable and justifiable for that particular situation (“reasonable” as in reasonable in the minds of a judge or jury). Caution and discretion are extremely important when using or even displaying handcuffs.

Extra special care and restraint, especially in the areas of use of force, length of detention and the use of handcuffs, should also be exercised whenever dealing with juveniles, or the elderly, or those who are sick, injured, or physically or mentally challenged. If someone is injured or sick, or even claims to be, don’t guess! Immediately call for medical assistance! If the person has I.D., you can always pursue criminal charges later if you wish. If he or she doesn’t have I.D., call the police and tell them you have called for medical assistance for a sick or injured shoplifting suspect whom you are detaining, and you are requesting police assistance. They will usually speed up the police response.

Readers desiring additional information on these or related subjects should contact a qualified professional security consultant and/or their attorney.


This article is based on generally accepted security principles, and on data gathered from what are believed to be reliable sources. This article is written for general information purposes only and is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a primary source for making security decisions. Each situation is or can be unique. The author is not an attorney, is not engaged in the practice of law, and is not rendering legal advice. Readers requiring advice about specific security problems or concerns should consult directly with a security professional. The author of this article shall have no liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss, liability, or damage alleged to have been caused by the use or application of any information in this article, nor information contained on this or any linked or related web site.

by R. Witherspoon

How do Metal Detectors and Body Scanners Work?

June 27, 2007

Metal detector and body scanner technology is a part of our daily lives ranging from leisure to safety applications. The metal detectors in airports, schools and colleges, government agencies, office buildings and prisons help ensure that no one is taking a concealed weapon onto the premises. Consumer and recreational metal detectors provide millions of people with the opportunity to discover artifacts or hidden treasures. Most of the information in this article applies to mounted detection systems, like the ones used in airports, as well as hand held security scanners.

Operating a metal detector is simple. Once you turn the unit on, you move slowly over the area you wish to search. You simply sweep the coil (search head) back and forth over the target area. When you pass it over a metal object, an audible signal occurs. More advanced metal detectors provide displays that show the type of metal detected and can even show what the item could possibly be.

Metal detectors and body scanners use one of three technologies:

· Very low frequency (VLF)
· Pulse induction (PI)
· Beat-frequency oscillation (BFO)

LF Technology

Very low frequency (VLF), also called induction balance, is possibly the most popular detector technology used today. In a VLF metal detector, there are two separate coils:

· Transmitter coil – This is the outer coil loop that contains a coil of wire. Electricity is sent along this wire in different directions thousands of times per second. The number of times that the current’s direction changes each second is called the frequency.

· Receiver coil – This inner coil contains another loop of wire. This wire acts as an antenna to pick up and amplify the frequencies coming from objects being scanned. The current moving through the transmitter coil creates an electromagnetic field. The polarity of the magnetic field reaches outward form the coil and changes directions in step with the frequency. This means that the magnetic field is constantly pushing out and back again as the subject is being scanned.

As the magnetic field pulses back and forth, it interacts with any metallic object it encounters. This causes the hidden item to generate weak magnetic fields of its own. The polarity of the object’s magnetic field is opposite from that of the transmitter coil. If the transmitter coil’s field is pulsing out, then the object’s field is pulsing back.

The receiver coil is completely shielded from the magnetic field generated by the transmitter coil but it is not shielded from magnetic fields coming from target object. So when the receiver coil passes over an object giving off a magnetic field, a small electric current travels through the coil. This current fluctuates at the same frequency as the object’s magnetic field. The coil amplifies the frequency and sends it to the control box of the metal detector, where sensors analyze the signal.

The metal detector can determine the approximate size of the object based on the strength of the magnetic field it produces. The closer to the surface an object is, the stronger the magnetic field picked up by the receiver coil and the stronger the electric current generated. The smaller or farther below the surface the object is, the weaker the field. Beyond a certain size or depth, the object’s field is too weak and is undetectable by the receiver coil.

How does a VLF metal detector identify different metals? It relies on a phenomenon called phase shifting. Phase shift is the difference in timing between the transmitter coil’s frequency and the frequency of the target object. This deference can result from a couple of things:

· Inductance – An object that conducts electricity easily (is inductive) is slow to react to changes in the current. You can think of inductance as a deep river: Change the amount of water flowing into the river and it takes some time before you see a difference.

· Resistance – An object that does not conduct electricity easily (is resistive) is quick to react to changes in the current. Resistance would be a small, shallow stream: Change the amount of water flowing into the stream and you notice a drop in the water level very quickly.

This means that an object with high inductance is going to have a higher phase shift, because it takes longer to change its magnetic field. An object with high resistance is going to have a lower phase shift.

Phase shift provides VLF style metal detectors and body scanners with an ability called discrimination. Since most metals differ in inductance and resistance, a VLF metal detector examines the amount of phase shift. This is done using a pair of electronic circuits called phase demodulators and they compare the phase shift with the average for a particular type of metal. The detector then notifies you with an audible tone or visual indicator as to what type of metals the object is most likely made of.

Some metal detectors allow you to filter out (discriminate) objects above a certain phase-shift level. This helps greatly when trying to avoid or hunt for certain types of metals. You can usually set the level of phase shift that is filtered by simply adjusting a knob. Another discrimination feature of VLF detectors is called notching. A notch is a discrimination filter for a certain segment of phase shift. The detector will alert you to objects above this segment as well as objects below it.

Advanced detectors even allow you to program multiple notches. For example, you could set the detector to disregard objects that have a phase shift comparable to a soda-can tab or a small nail. The disadvantage of discrimination and notching is that many valuable items might be filtered out because their phase shift is similar to that of “junk.” But, if you know that you are looking for a certain type of object, these features can be extremely useful.

PI Technology

A less common form of metal detector is based on pulse induction (PI). PI systems may use a single coil as both transmitter and receiver or they may have several coils working together. This technology sends powerful, short bursts of current through a coil of wire. Each pulse generates a brief magnetic field. When the pulse stops, the magnetic field reverses polarity and collapses very suddenly. The result is a sharp electrical spike that lasts a few microseconds and causes another current to run through the coil. This current is called the reflected pulse and is extremely short. Another pulse is sent and the process repeats again. A typical PI-based metal detector sends about 100 pulses per second, but the number can vary greatly based on the style and model..

If the metal detector is over a metal object, the pulse creates an opposite magnetic field in the object. When the pulse’s magnetic field collapses, the magnetic field of the object makes it take longer for the reflected pulse to completely disappear. This process works something like echoes: If you yell in a room with only a few hard surfaces, you probably hear only a very brief echo or you may not hear one at all. If you yell in a room with a lot of hard surfaces, the echo lasts longer. In a pulse induction scanner, the magnetic fields from objects add their “echo” to the reflected pulse, making it last a fraction longer than it would without them.

A special circuit in the metal detector is set to monitor the length of the reflected pulse. By comparing the actual length to the expected length, the circuit can determine if another magnetic field has caused it. If the reflected magnetic pulse takes more than a few microseconds longer than normal, there is most likely a metal object interfering with it.

This circuit sends the tiny, weak signals that it monitors to a device call an integrator. The integrator reads the signals, amplifies them, and converts them to direct current (DC). The direct current’s voltage is connected to an audio circuit, where it is changed into a tone that the metal detector uses to indicate that an object has been found.

PI-based detectors are not very good at discrimination because the reflected pulse length of various metals is not easily divided. But, they are useful in situations where VLF based metal detectors would have difficulty, such as in areas that have highly conductive material in the soil or general environment. An example of such a situation is salt-water exploration. PI based systems can also detect metal much deeper in the ground than other systems.

BFO Technology

The most basic way to detect metal is a technology called beat-frequency oscillator (BFO). In a BFO system, there are two coils of wire. One large coil is in the search head, and a smaller coil is located inside the control box. Each coil is connected to an oscillator that generates thousands of pulses of current per second. The frequency of these pulses is slightly offset between the two coils.

As the pulses travel through each coil, the coil generates radio waves. A tiny receiver in the control box receives the radio waves and makes an audible series of tones based on the difference between the frequencies.

If the coil in the search head passes over a metal object, the magnetic field caused by the current flowing through the coil creates a magnetic field around the object. The object’s magnetic field interferes with the frequency of the radio waves generated by the search head coil. As the frequency strays from the frequency of the coil in the control box, the audible beats change in duration and tone.

The simplicity of BFO-based systems allows them to be manufactured and sold very inexpensively. These can even be made at home following simple instructions. But these detectors do not provide the level of control and accuracy provided by VLF or PI systems.

Detective Work

Metal detectors, body scanners and freestanding metal detectors serve a wide range of practical functions. Mounted detectors usually use some variation of PI technology, while many of the basic hand held scanners are BFO-based.

Some professional applications for metal detectors are:

· Airport security – screen people before allowing access to the boarding area and the plane
· Building security – screen people entering a particular building, such as a school, office or prison
· Event security – screen people entering a sporting event, concert or other large gathering of people
· Item recovery – help someone search for a lost item, such as a piece of jewelry
· Archaeological exploration – find metallic items of historical significance
· Geological research – detects the metallic composition of soil or rock formations

Manufacturers of metal detectors are continuously fine-tuning the process to make their products more accurate, more sensitive, more versatile and less expensive. For more information on hand held scanners, be sure to visit Staff Patrol’s Security Products site.

How Identity Theft Occurs

June 22, 2007

Despite your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal information or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to gain access to your data.

How identity thieves get your personal information:

They get information from businesses or other institutions by:
• stealing records or information while they’re on the job
• bribing an employee who has access to these records
• hacking these records
• conning information out of employees

• They may steal your mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information.
• They may rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses, or public trash dumps in a practice known as “dumpster diving.”
• They may get your credit reports by abusing their employer’s authorized access to them, or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to access your report.
• They may steal your credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device in a practice known as “skimming.” They may swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM machine where you may enter or swipe your card.
• They may steal your wallet or purse.
• They may steal personal information they find in your home.
• They may steal personal information from you through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that you have a problem with your account. This practice is known as “phishing” online, or “pretexting” by phone.

How identity thieves use your personal information:

• They may call your credit card issuer to change the billing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there’s a problem.
• They may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the credit cards and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent accounts are reported on your credit report.
• They may establish phone or wireless service in your name.
• They may open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
• They may counterfeit checks or credit or debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name, and drain your bank account.
• They may file for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
• They may buy a car by taking out an auto loan in your name.
• They may get identification such as a driver’s license issued with their picture, in your name.
• They may get a job or file fraudulent tax returns in your name.
• They may give your name to the police during an arrest. If they don’t show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest is issued in your name.

If Your Personal Information Has Been Lost or Stolen

If you’ve lost personal information or identification, or if it has been stolen from you, taking certain steps quickly can minimize the potential for identity theft.

• Financial accounts: Close accounts, like credit cards and bank accounts, immediately. When you open new accounts, place passwords on them. Avoid using your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN) or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
• Social Security number: Call the toll-free fraud number of any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies and place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports. An alert can help stop someone from opening new credit accounts in your name.
• Driver’s license/other government-issued identification: Contact the agency that issued the license or other identification document. Follow its procedures to cancel the document and to get a replacement. Ask the agency to flag your file so that no one else can get a license or any other identification document from them in your name. Once you’ve taken these precautions, watch for signs that your information is being misused.

If your information has been misused, file a report about the theft with the police, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, as well. If another crime was committed – for example, if your purse or wallet was stolen or your house or car was broken into – report it to the police immediately.

What are Brass Knuckles and How are They Used?

June 21, 2007

Brass knuckles, sometimes known as “knuckles”, “knucks” or “knuckle dusters” are weapons used in hand-to-hand combat. Brass knuckles are pieces of steel or brass that are formed to fit around the knuckles with a grip for the palm. They were originally designed to maximize the force of punches to cause greater tissue bone damage upon contact. It also allows a harder punch due to reduced fear of harming ones own hands when striking.


Early forms of brass knuckles were used in ancient Rome, India, South America and Japan. The Roman “caestus” was a type of glove made from leather and metal and was used in boxing matches during gladiatorial events. Unlike modern day boxing gloves, the caestus was used solely to increase the damage caused by a punch.

An ancient Indian martial art called Vajra Mushti used a knuckle-duster type weapon and incorporated striking and grappling techniques along with the study of critical points. The bagh nakh or “tiger claw” is a similar Indian weapon that was worn over the knuckles. However, the bagh nakh was more of a slashing weapon than hitting device. A similar weapon called the tekko is another of the traditional weapons used in kobudo (a martial art from Okinawa, Japan).

Knuckle dusters were integrated into the Apache revolvers used by outlaws in France in the early 1900s. During World War I and II, trench knives (blades with enlarged guards to be used as brass knuckles) were used in close contact combat such as trench raiding maneuvers. Even in Britain, brass knuckles were made popular by the gangster Dave Courtney when debt collecting.

Legal Issues

In most countries, the possession of brass knuckles is illegal. Brass knuckles are available as reproductions or novelties, and some are even fashioned to be used as a belt buckle.

Authentic brass knuckles can be found at flea markets, swap meets, and some antique shops. The devious reputation and history have made them popular trinkets and can be found as collector’s items, brass knuckle paperweights, framed memorabilia, and brass knuckle belt buckles.

An adaptation of brass knuckles that is often called “clear knuckles” is made out of bulletproof glass or very dense Plexiglas. Clear knuckles, which are lighter than the metal versions, are designed impose topical pain, while brass knuckles were designed to break bone.

In the U.S., brass knuckles cannot be sold to people in several area such as the District of Columbia or the states of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, or Rhode Island. In Canada, brass knuckles or anything similar in design are listed as prohibited weapons.

Use of Brass Knuckles

Brass knuckles can be custom made to fit anyone. Due to the standard shape, brass knuckles rarely have a perfect fit. This can result in the accidental breaking of the fingers if a punch is thrown straight forward. Some people have been known the tape up the grip with padding to ensure a better fit.


There are a variety of brass knuckles and they include spiked knuckles, “fat boys“, “wedding rings”, brass knuckles with various images on the knuckles, and even knuckle-knives.

Spiked knuckles are one of the most brutal varieties of brass knuckles. The length of the spikes varies from as small as a quarter of an inch to up to six inches. Shorter spikes emphasize the impact of the brass knuckle on bone, while longer blades are used solely to inflict soft-tissue damage.

Certain brass knuckles are available with knives (especially flick knives) built in. These are very dangerous as a hand-to-hand fight can lead to a more serious situation where great injury or even death may be the outcome. These knife dusters are available in many countries across the world and should be handled with care.

Using and Choosing a Personal Safety Alarm

June 20, 2007

The likelihood of facing violence or assault in our daily lives is a lot higher than it used to be. As populations grow and the cultures merge, there is a growing chance of getting in a threatening or dangerous situation. We all want to feel as safe and secure and personal alarms can help us feel more confident and provide a level of security.

There are many different types of alarms available and picking the right personal alarm can sometimes be tricky. First, understand your situation and needs, and you should be able to pick the best one for your needs.

The Objective of a Personal Safety Alarm

The purpose of a personal safety alarm is to shock and disorientate an attacker, alert others for help, and to give you time to get away. They are not designed to immobilize or scare off the attacker. Personal alarms may not actually attract the attention of passers by, but they will cause the attacker to flee most of the time.

Key Features

The most significant part of an alarm is the sound it emits. This sound needs to be as loud and as high-pitched as possible. Ideally, it also needs to be dissimilar to those usually heard such as automobile alarms, police sirens, etc. Most law enforcement personnel agree that the most successful sound is constant shriek and over 130 decibels. This is not a sound we usually hear and makes the alarm better able to startle the attacker and alert people nearby.

A personal alarm needs to be simple to carry. But it is important to weigh the pros and cons of a very lightweight and small alarm verses one that is slightly larger and louder. Some small alarms can be very loud, although the sound may not last for very long. They can be easier to handle for some people. The best compromise is in an alarm that can fit without difficulty into the palm of your hand, but is still very loud. There are also flashing personal alarms with lights which give a visible point of reference to anyone passing by.

Ease of use also is also a consideration. How would you operate the alarm in an urgent situation? There are many different ways to activate the various types of alarms including push caps, push buttons and pull out pins. How awkward is it to locate the button and activate it? Do you have problems using your hands or fingers? If so, you might need to use both hands. As an alternative, are you able to operate it purely by pushing it against something else? Some even have straps that can clip onto your shirt or belt and are triggered by simply pulling the device.

Remember, a personal safety alarm should be just one part of your personal safety strategy. There are many other ways you can protect yourself against aggression, including self defense techniques. Once you have set off your alarm, leave the area and situation as quickly as you can. If possible, move to a busy and well lit location. There is no need to wait and make sure that your alarm has had the desired effect. Just leave and seek help.

How Hot is Pepper Spray?

June 20, 2007

A word about pepper spray effectiveness:

As you know, there are many self-defense sprays on the market today. Pick up a few packages, and you will see that their effectiveness is advertised and presented in a few different ways. Of course, common sense tells us that what really matters most is “how hot is the pepper spray that hits the attacker?” In marketing the effectiveness of their pepper spray products, some manufacturers stress the amount of OC (Oleoresin Capsicum shown as a percentage) in their spray. Others stress the SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) value of the OC contained within the spray, or they use a combination of the two. We believe that neither method is a completely true and accurate measurement of effectiveness.

This is why:

The OC percentage is, simply put, the percentage of OC contained within the defense sprays formulation. A spray that advertises a “10% OC” content simply contains 10% OC (active ingredient), and 90% inactive ingredients. What this percentage does not tell you, however, is the potency, or “hotness,” AFTER it is blended with its inactive ingredients. Stressing the SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) value, or “potency,” of the OC is another measure used by manufacturers. This value is simply the strength of the OC before it is diluted in the remainder of the solution. Sure, the OC in a spray may come from peppers with a 2,000,000 SHU value, but what percentage of the final formula actually contains OC?

Bottom Line?

Neither the OC percentage nor the SHU rating are accurate measurements of the strength of the formula inside a can of pepper spray! Simple math would tell you that a 10% OC formula manufactured from a 2,000,000 SHU strength OC should yield a spray with a 200,000 SHU. Unfortunately, chemistry is not that simple of a science. While advertising the simple math is not necessarily an outright lie, it is very misleading. The only true and accurate way to measure a spray’s potency is to measure it AFTER it leaves the nozzle. This is why our producer had other sprays independently tested and rated on how they perform when they leave the can, not on what the base formulation is before it is blended with other ingredients. That is why most of our pepper sprays advertises the actual “Nozzle SHU” of their defense spray – the strength of the spray after it leaves the nozzle. We also evaluated an independent lab test of the formulas of the competing sprays. Compared with what these other brands advertise, the results are surprising! We guarantee the strength of the spray when it leaves the can! We may just be your only self defense company that fully guarantees its OC spray heat rating. We realize that the safety of their friends and family were at stake with many of the other products. That is why we distribute a line of new defense spray formulations that you, your friends and your family could depend on at any time. We are so confident in the effectiveness of our spray formulas, that we actually guarantee it, 100%.