Crime and intruders have been on my mind recently.
The recent robberies of NBT Bank and Walgreens in Plattsburgh are very unusual here. It is rare that we have crimes of violence by strangers. Most often, crime is committed by people who know their victims and even say they love them. Child sexual abuse and domestic violence are what we typically see. Exceptions are thefts from our cars and homes.
As I learned from a racoon in our camp last week, being alert and taking simple precautions can greatly reduce the likelihood of being victimized. First, the racoon used the cat door to come in; we closed it, and the next night he quickly saw that we left the kitchen window open, with a loose screen that he easily pushed out. A human with the same intention could just as easily gain access.
Our communities are not dangerous, but they are not crime-free. We feel safe in the North Country. However, sometimes our behavior makes us vulnerable. Drug abuse is everywhere and more common than we like to think. Some drug users steal whatever they can to buy drugs. An unlocked parked car is an easy mark, even if it is in your own driveway. People looking for money or items to sell try one car after another, going through any that are unlocked.
It does not take long for them to be successful, as many people keep valuables in their cars and then leave them unlocked. As judge, I learned about the missing property when someone was arrested for stealing it. A defendant caught going through someone’s car often also had stolen property from other vehicles. It might be change left in the console, a GPS unit or an iPod. I’ve also seen many cases where checkbooks were kept in the glove compartment and were stolen then the checks forged. Some people keep even more valuable items in their vehicles, like a passport or a handgun. When these are stolen, it has a huge impact.