Don’t Volunteer to be a Victim!
I have had several interesting requests over the past few weeks about topics for The Message from the Sheriff, and I plan to address those in the future. In the past, I’ve done a few that were humorous (‘Pet Peeves’) and some that were controversial (‘My Opinion Sometimes Gets Me In Trouble’).
But today’s topic is a very serious one. One that I hope you will consider very strongly – and more importantly, one that will make you TAKE action.
We all agree that Baxter County, Arkansas is a great place to live, retire, visit, vacation or to raise a family. Natural beauty, stellar medical facilities, strong education in both our school districts and our university all combine to make us the envy of our state.
Notice that I did not include a low crime rate as one of the positive influences on our quality of life. Why? -- because we are beginning to see a very disturbing trend. We still have one of the lowest crime rates for personal crimes, rape, robbery and murder. But we are experiencing what every other community in Arkansas is experiencing -- an increase in property crime. Burglary, thefts and break-ins are on the rise. A percentage of that increase can be attributed to the economy and high unemployment rates, and you could make the argument that a percentage is because of the reduced punishment for the theft offense.
But, I will argue that a major reason for the increase in theft is OUR OWN FAULT. We are volunteering to be a victim. What do I mean? Well, most thieves are looking for the quick, easy score. Of the last hundred or so reports of vehicle break-ins, 99% were left unlocked. Purses, cash, checkbooks, cameras, laptop computers, IPads and IPods, and yes, even guns and prescription medications were taken from unlocked vehicles. Most cars were parked in their driveways and it didn’t matter whether the victim lived in town or out in the rural community. Others were at church, the victim’s place of employment or the doctor’s office. And to take it further, I cannot remember the last auto theft where the car wasn’t left unlocked with the keys in the ignition. All of these people were volunteering to be a victim of crime. The same holds true for boats. A majority of boat thefts are because the owners leave valuables in plain sight instead taking them with them or locking them away.
Alright, now raise your hand if your car, at this very moment, is unlocked and someplace other than inside your locked garage. See what I mean? Look at how many of you are volunteering to be a victim. And don’t say it won’t happen to you. That’s what the last 250 victims said.
Together we CAN make a difference. Together we CAN reduce thefts. Together we CAN make it harder for the criminal. Together we CAN reduce all crime. Together we CAN make our communities safer.
Don’t volunteer to be a victim. GO LOCK YOUR CAR.
Sheriff John Montgomery