You see it everywhere across America. Suburban and small town neighborhoods that are quite, well kept and presumed safe. There are various toys and bikes in the yard. People leave their cars unlocked in their driveway, all because the people there feel safe. Everyone wants to feel like they live in Mayberry.
For the most part these neighborhoods are safe. The chance of a drive by shooting or a mugging going to your mailbox are relatively low. So is it safe to say that criminals just don't like these areas? No. So how does crime start in a “nice neighborhood”? It can start when the opportunity for crime is initiated by the homeowners.
A crime of opportunity is when a person spontaneously commits a crime without planning and perceives a low risk for being caught. There is a high reward for the crime with little downside for the criminal. So what then is a crime of opportunity? The most obvious one is stealing a car that is parked with the windows down and the keys in the ignition. The act is simply getting into the car and driving off. It’s not a hard crime to commit and the likelihood of getting caught in the act is very low. Simply stated the perpetrator saw an opportunity to make a significant gain (the car) with little resistance to the act taking place (the windows being down in an empty car and keys inside).
In this scenario, who is to blame? The perpetrator for sure as no criminal act HAD to take place. But leaving the car parked with the windows down and the keys inside is very irresponsible. Is the car owner to blame as well? Legally, the answer is no. But when you create an opportunity for your property to be stolen easily, you share some of the fault.
The only person responsible for keeping your property secure is you.
I know a couple who live in a nice neighborhood. There was a string of car break-ins near their home and they were victimized. Their car doors were left unlocked which made it easy for the thieves to get in. I’m pretty sure if the doors were unlocked, that this highly skilled crime ring would have just moved on to the next house. Now I don’t blame this couple for feeling safe, because feeling safe is not a bad thing. But leaving the car doors unlocked lead to them becoming victims of crime. The only person responsible for keeping your property secure is you.
You don’t have a million dollar home with gold bars in a vault behind a picture in your study, so therefore no one will bother you, right? Crime happens to ordinary people everyday. Read your local crime blotter. None of those people were millionaires either. Thinking you cannot be a target for crime is a false security. Thinking your home is not nice enough to be robbed is a false security. Thinking your neighborhood is safe because it is “nice” is a false security. You cannot anticipate every reason someone would want to victimize you. Therefore, you cannot justify a mindset that you will never be the victim of a crime.
Thinking you cannot be a target for crime is a false security.
Let’s go back to the couple in the nice neighborhood. While their property may have been safe from a larger scale crime, it was not impervious to neighborhood kids being stupid and stealing from unlocked cars. That happens; it’s just life. But you can take steps to secure yourself, your family and your property to decrease the odds the odds being targeted for a crime
The biggest step toward keeping your neighborhood nice and your property safe is your mindset. You don’t live in Mayberry. Mayberry was a fictional town. You need to come to grips that someone with questionable ethics might drive by your house tonight, because again you live in a nice neighborhood, and steal from you. There is no point in trying to rationalize why someone might steal from you. It doesn’t matter. People who commit “low risk” (of being caught) crimes don’t rationalize why you need to be stolen from. Crime is not rational. Don’t make it easier for a criminal to victimize you, change your mindset to be proactive in your security.
You can keep your neighborhood “nice” by locking your doors, adding exterior lighting, closing your garage door and picking up your kid’s bikes from your lawn. Do not make your home and family an easy target. Remember every neighborhood starts out as a nice community until it’s not. Do not invite crime into your neighborhood. Be responsible for your property and help keep your neighborhood safe.