Safeguard Your Belongings, Or Others Will • Chris Bish
Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in property thefts within Morgan County. Aside from the never ending air conditioner thefts from churches and vacant structures for the copper components, individuals with a propensity to take from others have expanded their forte by stealing practically anything not nailed down. It’s run the gamut from laptop computers, digital cameras, currency, lawnmowers, wallets, cell phones, weed eaters and so on. An overwhelming majority of them were crimes of opportunity where the victim merely left their valued possessions unsecured and ripe for the taking.
Everyone must remember that thieves are looming everywhere and look for the unsuspecting victim 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They drive down our streets, they knock on our doors and they steal whatever they can get their hands on. They’re merely looking for and taking advantage of that golden opportunity---when someone lets their guard down.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to combat this incessant thievery. First and foremost, it is incumbent upon everyone to secure their belongings. Otherwise, trust me, they will not be their belongings very long. Everyone must minimize the opportunity for theft by locking their doors, locking their vehicles and securely storing their possessions. It’s called prevention. It’s what frustrates thieves. It causes them to look elsewhere!
The other method of combating this problem is for everyone to document and record their significant possessions and purchases. This way, if they are victimized, they can provide the identifying information that could facilitate an arrest and conviction. Note the make, model, color, serial number etc. of the item. Jot it down and store it somewhere such as a safety deposit box, an office file cabinet or even a relative’s residence. If there are not any manufacturer applied identifiers, then apply your own number or identifier and jot it down. Another technique is to photograph the item. Everyone is encouraged to inventory any item of significance whether they are of sentimental value or strictly monetary value.
In most of the recent theft cases, the victims were unable to provide any identifying information for the items taken other than the make or model. Consequently, the lack of specific identifying information severely hampers law enforcement’s investigative efforts.
There are millions of Dell laptop computers, countless Acer personal computers, thousands of Kodak cameras and so on. Thus, law enforcement needs the specific information for the item taken to enter into the nationwide law enforcement computer system, to check pawn shops and most importantly, for comparison when individuals are confronted in possession of suspected stolen items.
Without the specific information to prove the item in question belongs to someone else, law enforcement cannot arrest the individual in possession of the item nor can the item be recovered despite the fact in all probability, it is not rightfully theirs.
Unfortunately, many of us can remember the time when you could inadvertently leave a car unlocked any where you went or a home unlocked and everything would be intact upon the owners return. Well, it’s sad to say, that’s not the case any longer. In today’s day and age, the criminal element thrives on the unsuspecting. Let’s raise the bar and make it difficult for them to operate….safeguard your belongings by documenting and securing them!
Chris Bish is a captain at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
Printed in the August 11, 2011 edition.