When his son’s bicycle was stolen out of his carport in the middle of the night, Sultan resident Joe Stone decided that, not only did he want to work proactively to prevent further victimization on his own property; he also wanted to help other Sky Valley residents cultivate a line of defense against burglars, petty thieves and car prowlers.
Stone, who lives near Sultan Elementary School with his wife, Liz, and their five children, discovered the bike missing on Saturday, April 19 as he prepared to take his family to Sultan’s Easter Egg Hunt at River Park. The bike belonged to his 13-year-old son, Josh, who alerted him to the fact that it was gone.
Due to the recent influx of petty crimes and burglaries around areas of Sultan and Gold Bar, Stone had recently purchased and installed a surveillance system.
That system had captured video of the thief as he crept into their carport on April 18 at 4:40 a.m. and snatched the bicycle. Since Stone wasn’t entirely certain when the theft had occurred, he had to search through days of footage before he finally found the incident.
“I went through about three or four days of solid video until I found it,” said Stone.
He thinks it’s likely the thief had spotted the bike at an earlier point in time.
“When he walked up it was pretty obvious he knew what he was looking for,” said Stone.
Stone and his wife immediately utilized several different social networking pages to spread word of the theft. They posted the video as well as a picture of a similar-looking bicycle.
When Thrifty 4 You owners John and Kelly Hoyt saw the Stone’s Facebook post, they realized that the bike looked familiar. When they went back through their own surveillance footage from the day of the theft they discovered that they had caught the thief on camera as he rode the bicycle, a silver and red Mongoose, down Main Street in front of their store.
The Stone’s obtained additional photos of the bike thief from the second hand store and matched them up to their own video footage, turning all evidence over to the police. Somebody was eventually able to ID the suspect and shared his name with the Stone’s via an anonymous tip. They turned that information over to the police, as well.
And then on Thursday, April 24, Stone was invited to Sultan City Hall with other members of Sultan’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization for the Loyalty Day Proclamation.
Since moving to Sultan about a year ago, Stone has become increasingly involved in the VFW. First serving as the Adjutant, Stone will be sworn in as the VFW Junior Vice Commander on May 8. He has found great opportunity within the organization and being able to assist other veterans who may be struggling has been extremely rewarding to Stone.
“We’re out there just to make sure that veterans and their families are taken care of,” said Stone. “This city is really good about honoring veterans; it’s really refreshing to see.”
While at the meeting, he saw the opportunity to address the council about the recent increase in car prowls and petty theft. To Stone, the response, while sympathetic, was not comprehensive enough. He wanted more. He wanted a solution.
That’s when the 34-year-old married father of five realized that maybe he could put his military experience to good use.
He decided he wanted to take a proactive and preventative approach and start a security consulting company. In less than a week Stone developed a business plan, filed for his Washington State business license, filed for his city of Sultan business license, created a Facebook page and built a website. On Saturday, April 26, Stone Security Services became a reality.
Through his new company, Stone will perform security assessments for both residential customers as well as local business owners. His custom security audits will include things like basic perimeter examinations; physical checks of locks and windows; CCTV security system installation; security lighting recommendations and much more. His priority is to be accessible and affordable to folks on a limited budget.
“I’m not really tailoring this thing towards large businesses and people with a lot of money,” said Stone, although he is happy to assist any customer. “My goal is really just to improve things in the community.”
“I’m not really too concerned about improving my bottom line, that’s not why I’m doing it,” he continued.
During his 15-year career with the United States Army, Stone specialized in security detail. He completed two tours in Iraq, one in Guantanamo Bay and one in Afghanistan. His responsibilities included force protection; observation post duty; military police work; security management and other duties pertaining to security.
“I’m coming at it from more of a tactical standpoint, I guess you could say. That’s where most of my experience is at,” said Stone. “I have a pretty good eye for detail. I can see when something’s amiss.”
Stone will operate his business on top of his fulltime job; he is currently a test technician for a local aerospace company. His wife, Liz, has decided to focus on the block watch aspect of prevention, and is working to coordinate with other Sultan area block watch groups to ensure that they have a centralized point of communication.