Sometimes small stories are as interesting as big ones:

  • Without fanfare, Concord police have engaged in a proactive campaign against auto theft in their community. Through a program dubbed "Operation Wheel-Lock," the department has been handing out a security device known as "The Club" to anyone who lives or works in the city and is a registered owner of a 1985 to 2005 model Honda, Toyota, Nissan or Acura.

    Those models were chosen, Lt. David Hughes said, because they're stolen at a disproportionately higher rate than other cars, primarily because their ignition systems lack sophisticated security features.

    "We realized that when we looked at all our stolen vehicles in 2012," he said. "It just jumped off the page that Honda Accords and Civics, for example, accounted for one-third of all our stolen vehicles."

    The department, which purchased more than 900 "Clubs" with $10,000 in forfeiture money seized from drug dealers, began the program June 18. More than 500 have been distributed to walk-in applicants, and another 100 or so to owners of stolen cars after they were recovered.

    Cars parked overnight on the street or in parking lots are particularly at risk, Hughes said. The security devices will be available until the supply runs out. (For more information, call 925-671-3030.)

  • The East County Fire District has some details to hash out, but a temporary parcel tax estimated at $100 likely will be on the ballot next June, board member Steve Smith said. He contacted me to take issue with an item I wrote questioning the wisdom of resurrecting a parcel tax vote less than two years after the last one was soundly defeated.

    He said the district needs to better explain what's at risk and how it has worked to trim costs since the last vote. "We hope to have a more community-based campaign this time," he said.

    The district's five stations, which cover 249 square miles -- including areas torched by the recent Morgan fire on Mount Diablo -- are now fully staffed with three firefighters only because of a two-year federal grant that will expire in 14 months. The grant has masked the predicament that lies ahead.

    "Without some new funding after November 2014, we would have to drop down to three stations," Smith said, "and it's by no means sure we would have three firefighters at each station."

    Two-thirds voter support is needed to approve a parcel tax. Inasmuch as the last effort fell short of 50 percent, that community-based campaign better be really good.

  • At long last, Sacramento legislators have tackled the rampant epidemic of mattress dumping that plagues our state. You didn't know the state's roadways were littered with mattresses? Well, even if they aren't, legislators are going to fix the problem.

    The Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act, authored by state Sens. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, would add a surcharge of $8 to $14 to new mattress purchases -- politicians fix everything with fees -- that will be used to offset charges for dropping mattresses at waste facilities. The thinking seems to be that folks who've been chucking their old mattresses alongside the road will take them to the dump if they can do so for free.

    You don't have to be a psychic to know what's coming next: the Used Box Springs Recovery and Recycling Act.

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.