Opinion: Petty crimes

POSTED: 11/1/12 11:59 AM

There are crimes, and there are petty crimes. On a scale that features murder, rape, armed robbery, sexual assault, ill-treatment, manslaughter and, say, credit card fraud, home burglaries probably do not qualify for the top spot with most people.
But anyone who has ever been the victim of a home burglary – and we hear that there are about fifteen a day on the island right now – will have a different opinion about this.
Home burglaries are an invasion of privacy. They cause residents to feel uneasy in the place where they ought to be completely at ease.
That burglars steal stuff is of secondary importance: flat screen TVs, cameras, money, all this can be replaced. But burglars also tent to make off with heirlooms that have limited value on the free market but that mean the world in sentimental value to their owners. So even if the insurance company covers all the losses, burglars always cause damages that are beyond repair.
The apparent increase in home burglaries is in a way logical. Not everybody has the guts for an armed robbery – that’s at least something to be grateful for – and private homes are a soft target. More often than not the security measures are minimal so the risk of getting caught is not all that high.
For home owners it is therefore time to step up to the plate and take measures that make life for all these burglars a lot tougher. That is easier said than done. Sure, one could go to a company that specializes in home security, but hiring outsiders is not without risk either. Even the most reliable companies have to send employees on the road to do the grunt work. And who is to say that among them there are not a few who function as the eyes and ears of some burglar?
The safest way to go about home security measures is obviously to do it yourself, or to have it done by a trusted friend or family member.
Installing cameras is all the craze at this moment but one could wonder how helpful they are. Most burglars make sure they are unrecognizable by covering their faces.
Then what? It is logical to inspect the quality of locks on doors and windows. Making sure there is plenty of light around the house also diminishes the chances that it becomes a target. Installing flood lights with motion detectors may scare the living daylights out of wannabe burglars.
And what about a watchdog?
There are plenty of measures home owners are able to take short of arming themselves to the teeth – a solution favored by the gun nuts in our community.
The internet is obviously an ideal tool to find more solutions for securing one’s home. They’re probably all good, as long as installing them does not break any laws and does not pose life threatening dangers to others. Arming the garden fence or the knob of the front door with 110Volts is therefore not only a bad idea, it could also land home owners in places where they don’t want to be.
The cry for more police patrols is understandable, but citizens also have a personal responsibility to protect their property. It does not have to cost the earth and every effort that makes life for wannabe burglars more difficult is a step in the right direction.

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