When it’s late at night and you hear a car alarm go off; you either ignore it all together, or you simply hope it isn’t yours.
Friday night, it was mine.
Parked in front of the office at about 9 pm, I heard the horn start blaring and thought to myself, “That sounds like my car.”
I stepped outside to see a teenaged-degenerate with a white bag full of stuff – that until moments before I considered mine – running from my car.
The front passenger’s side window was shattered into thousands of tiny pieces and was scattered across the inside of my car. With the shards of glass and papers tossed about, my car looked as though it had been ransacked.
I just became a victim (again).
Like anyone in my position, standing in a parking lot with broken glass all around and a fleeing assailant, I thought of calling the police. I would soon learn (again) about the personal side of budget cuts.
When the local police dispatch officer told my fiancée that police no longer respond to ‘victimless’ crimes, she was aghast. Actually, she was furious.
I understand that in the grand scheme of the criminal world, a broken window and stolen GPS and radar detector doesn’t account to too much. But my and my financee’s objection isn’t about my loss; it’s about the loss of the basic protections that government should – must – provide.
When police fail or refuse to respond to a crime, what disincentive exists for criminals? If there’s virtually no penalty for breaking into a car, why not make some easy money?
I understand that during difficult economic times, services have to be cut or reduced. And if my tax dollars can’t go to fund a dog park, then I’ll find another way to make sure my puppy gets exercise. If the library has to close a bit earlier, I’ll have to plan my day a bit better. But what is the recourse for crime?
Do I apply for a Conceal and Carry permit? Sure, I can.
But does that mean I’ll blast someone for stealing $500 worth of stuff? Doubtful.
Yes, I say doubtful. I’m no proponent of vigilante justice, but it sounded nice at the time. And it sounded even better after the $400 in glass was replaced.
You would think this is an opinion that gets me in trouble with my fiancée and you’d be right. She thinks I’m being soft on crime. She’s a fan of finding the people who have wronged me and then publicly relieving them of a hand, arm, or head. Actually, she’s been talking wishfully about public bloodletting since long before this week’s misfortunate. She’s just more adamant now.
Do I work shorter hours? I don’t think that’s an option, either.
What if the crime caused a more significant loss than $500 in goods and $400 in damage? What if it the victim lost thousands?
Funny you should ask, since on Thursday last week someone stole my credit card information and bought $6,000 of jewelry in Burbank.
I’ll give kudos to my credit card company. The charge was approved at 10:14 Thursday night, I received a call from them ten minutes later, and the card was cancelled just moments after that. They froze the account and forwarded the case to their fraud department.
What did I do? I froze all of my credit – so if you’re a thief and reading this, it isn’t worth trying anything else – and then called the police in Southern California to report a crime and have them investigate.
It was less than a half hour since the crime was committed at a local branch of a national jewelry store chain. I’m sure there’d be these crazy contraptions called video cameras. I bet that these caught a glimpse of the perpetrators face. Not being an investigator myself, I’m just assuming it could have given them a nice starting spot for an investigation.
Nope, I’d be wrong. Because I was only robbed of my identity (and potentially $6,000), they wouldn’t respond. In their opinion, I hadn’t actually been robbed of anything in their jurisdiction. It would be up to my credit card company, my local police, and the jewelry store to file the report and start an investigation.
What good does that do me? Is a detective going to fly from Sacramento to Burbank to go and look at a video? Nope.
I got hosed, again.
When budget cuts keep the police from protecting and serving, innocent victims of crimes are left feeling alone and very vulnerable. Now, I’m left wondering when my car will be broken into again. It hasn’t happened again since Friday, so I think I’m off to a good start.
When will my credit and identity be taken? That hasn’t happened since Thursday…. also a good start.
When am I going to be the victim of a hit and run? Oh yeah, that hasn’t happened since the previous Friday. But it’s been nine days since that one, so why bring up ancient history.
It’s time that we take an honest look at how we spend money at every level of government. The basic and vital services that must be provided aren’t more hours at the library or more frequent grass mowings at our parks; it’s officers on the street and criminals in jail.
I thought I understood that, but it’s only when I was a victim of three crimes in a week that I truly appreciated how personal budget cuts really can be.
I’ll end with this: another warning to criminals. Now, more than ever, I am glad that my roommate is a retired army scout sniper; an ardent supporter of his right to keep and bear arms; and he is a very, very light sleeper.
Dan Oney is the Editor of PublicCEO and can be reached at Dan@PublicCEO.com