Crime and the Economy?

The other week, O and I were sitting in our living room playing some “video games” on my laptop when I heard a strange sound. A commotion of sorts—some yelling, rustling around, what sounded like a loudspeaker? My mind couldn’t quite process what was happening, but my body seemed to sense danger because my heart started pounding. I got up and tried to look out our picture window. Because, you know, that’s what you should do if you sense danger—look for it. I saw something, but was unsure what I saw. Curiosity killed my sensibility and, with O on my hip, I walked to the kitchen window to get a better look. I definitely got a better look—then I hit the kitchen floor.

A bunch of SWAT team members, dressed in head-to-toe SWAT gear with semi-automatic weapons drawn, had surrounded my neighbor’s house. They were pounding on the door, yelling through a bullhorn that they had a search warrant. When I happened to glance out the kitchen window, the SWAT team must’ve decided they were done waiting for the woman to open her door and busted in the house, throwing in flash bangs ahead of them as they entered. Cops were EVERYWHERE (including one at the edge of my front yard who my dog was freaking OUT at), there was an armored truck, and, um, it was pretty much insane. It all happened so fast.

“Who are the bad guys, Mommy?” O asked.

“Those aren’t bad guys, O, those are good guys. They are the police,” I said. “They just look like bad guys.” (And they really, did—dressed in dark green and black with big guns.)

The cops took my neighbor away, hung out on the street for about four more hours, and then went along their merry way. And my two year old had nightmares all night long.

I’d like to say that’s the craziest thing that’s happened in my hood recently, but unfortunately it’s not. In addition to the SWAT team, there have been multiple break-ins, a few break-in attempts, and a home invasion with add-on attempted sexual assault. NOT FUN.

I know it’s not just happening where I live. I’ve heard and read about it locally, semi-locally, and across the country. And in the vestibule of a local police station (I was there paying my ticket—I lost in court) I read in their town newsletter that they had been experiencing an increase in crime, too. They blamed it on the economy.

I don’t know if it has to do with the economy, but I do know that I’m a little scared, a lot more cautious, and very pissed off. So I was happy to see that a neighbor sent a sort of “neighborhood watch” letter with some tips on how to keep your neighborhoods safe. I thought I’d share.

• Turn on your porch/outside lights, and leave them on overnight
• Keep your windows and doors locked at all times. If you are working in your backyard, keep your front door locked. Don’t leave for work with any ground windows open.
• Install an alarm system and use it.
• Install motion lights around your house. Thieves won’t know if you’ve turned it on or if it was a motion light. (This was actually recommended to me by a cop after someone ripped off the side mirror of my car just for the fun of it.)
• Be observant of your surroundings/street. You probably have a good idea of your neighbor’s cars and frequent visitors look like. Let people that might look suspicious know that you see him or her. Recognition is not what a thief wants.
• Call the police if you notice suspicious behavior. As the woman who sent the letter said, “I would prefer someone call the police to report a potential break-in to my house than ignore it, even if it turns out to be my brother who forgot is his key.”
• Keep your cars locked at all times.
• If you are leaving for a few days, tell a neighbor you can trust. Put lights on timers, and ask the neighbor to collect mail and/or newspapers.

Some of these tips might seem like “no duh” advice, but I think they are worth repeating. If it helps one person, well, hallelujah. And if all else fails, I could call up Shadow Hare to patrol my community. (You could too, if you live in Cincinnati.)

(For those who were wondering, the SWAT team invasion was for a drug bust.)

6 thoughts on “Crime and the Economy?

  1. Well, this sure beats my dog story.

    That’s crazy. There has been a lot of theft from autos around here. One of my friends had her car window busted out while it was parked outside the YMCA at 10:30 a.m.! Her purse was hidden under a coat in the backseat, but they managed to find it and take it.

    It is scary. I’ve been wanting to install a motion light for a long time. I heard they were really effective, too. But my husband hates them.

  2. I live in downtown Atlanta and you are better off leaving NOTHING in your car and leaving it unlocked. Homeless people will break a window for twenty cents in your cup holder or rummage through that pile of papers in your floorboard.

  3. We’re seeing more crime in my neighborhood, too. It’s crazy – and wow, I can’t wait to see what it does to my already-plummeting property value. I want to move but am feeling more and more trapped. Argh!

  4. I hate that it has to be like this.

    Cara–I don’t love the motion light either. We have one in our front porch, but I’m thinking about getting another for the side yard, b/c it gets pretty dark, and that’s where my car was parked when the dude/lady ripped off my mirror.

    Erin–That sucks. I had someone go through my car once, too. (I dumbly left the door unlocked). They didn’t take anything–just made a big mess. They didn’t even take my change?

    I’m sorry to hear that, Sara. I really am feeling trapped lately, too. And before this latest rash of incidents, I would’ve never thought that…

  5. Anonymous says:

    We moved from the East Side to Price Hill to be closer to our investment properties and its very difficult to trust Any neighborhood, right now. I feel that since we live in a high crime area we are “used to” locking up items of value. I hear stories of everything from copper pipes to tail gates to children’s clothes at the laundry being stolen. I had to explain to my neighbors why I keep my propane tank locked to my grill. (BTW-I guess they are stolen to make meth. as per the Cincy Police). This is the time for neighbors to watch for each other! Thanks for all the suggestions!

  6. That is a crazy story, did you ever find out what all the fuss was about?

    I’ve been pretty happy with my security lights. They really aren’t so much about making a criminal wonder if you are home, as they are to make them feel suddenly exposed. As soon as they come on, people look up to see what is going on.

    After someone broke my back fence trying to break in last winter, I ended up getting a couple of these motion lights, because they look nice and have a setting where I can leave them on low and they get bright when they see someone.

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