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enough is enough

My scooter was stolen yesterday. I’m not talking about some kids trick Razer Scooter. I am talking about a full size, gas powered, street legal and registered scooter. That’s right. Someone made off with my 200+ pound scooter. The steering column actually locks into place which would make removing it extra difficult. While they could have figured out how to get it into neutral and rolled it away using only the back tire, they most likely had two or more people lift it onto a trailer or into the back of a truck—then drove away.

The security cameras around the complex betray the sign at each of the entrances and throughout the complex saying the premises is under surveillance. It is not. As I found out the last time something was stolen from my property (yes, I said last time), the cameras haven’t worked for some time. The complex and HOA are “looking for a solution.”

Hey… Here’s the solution. GET WORKING CAMERAS!

It’s been a rough month. Part of that is related to multiple thefts and part of that is owing to car issues (including hitting a deer). Yeah that happened too, but that is for another time. This is a story about theft and the assholes who, I suppose, believe stealing is OK. I believe the old adage “crime doesn’t pay” is false.

The truth is, if you were able to compile a list of crime, hell let’s limit this to theft alone, the majority goes unpunished. I don’t have any real statistics to back that up, but think about whether you have ever had anything stolen. This isn’t my first brush with theft—just the most recent and the most extensive. Did you even report the theft? If you are like me (and my previous instances of theft) I did not. Why? The theft was small—petty theft.

Yes, it may have been something of value to me and in a few case was hundreds of dollars, but what are the odds the thing(s) would every be found? How do you trace a camera, an iPod, clothing, headphones, etc.? In several of these thefts I did report a crime. Police were called. A report was filed. In two instances the thief was caught—for other crimes not the theft of my items.

I never got any of my things back from any of these captured thieves. The items were gone. In one case, there was even a trial where I submitted my losses. Not a dime was ever sent or item returned. In one instance, after the police report was filed I went to file a claim only to find out my stolen item was not covered under my policy. In another, I was told it was covered but didn’t exceed my deductible so any replacement cost was my own.

In the three thefts of my property in the last year (yeo, I said three) I have had approximately $5000 taken. My whole point in moving to this apartment was to save money in order to purchase a home at some point. This move has ended up costing well more than I would have paid in extra rent over the past year in my previous apartment. Good God! Actually putting that into words is depressing. I will likely never see any of my stolen tools again. I have zero hope of seeing my bike again. I am still hanging onto hope that my scooter will turn up, but what condition remains to be seen.

My point? In all of the thefts I have ever had perpetrated against me I have never once recovered anything or be compensated for my losses. In all the police reports I have filed for the thefts only one criminal has spent time in jail and it wasn’t even for the crime he committed against me. In each of these instances crime definitely paid for the criminals involved. They were never caught and the items were never recovered.

I am willing to bet if I talked to any group of random victims of theft the majority would admit to the same results. No one ever caught and nothing ever recovered. They may have been compensated for their losses by insurance, but the thief still made off with their stuff and never served time. Yes, I know these are broad assumptions, but knowing the circumstances of friends and family who have been sharing their theft stories, I am extremely confident in this assumption. I don’t do a lot of gambling, but this is a bet I would willingly make.

What is being done to solve it? Honestly it seems like little to nothing. Are the police going to spend time looking for my stolen tools? Absolutely not because they have much bigger, more pressing, cases to focus on—as they should. Solve a homicide or look for this guy’s tools. Hmmm... what a choice.

My apartment complex doesn’t have the money to invest in an entirely new comprehensive surveillance system. People don’t want to be monitored 24/7 especially at home. That is, until something affects them to change their mind. When there is a theft, when their car is hit in a parking lot, when a child is taken. Then we immediately want to know if there are cameras anywhere that may have caught the crime and the perpetrators. We don’t want cameras inconspicuously scanning our license plates while we drive around because it is an invasion of our privacy. That is, until we are looking for an Amber alert vehicle, or there is a hit and run, or our vehicle is stolen. Then we clamor for the solution we have fought against.

I acknowledge having cameras everywhere is not going to stop crimes from happening. There are still going to be individuals who are willing to take the risk. Yeah they are on camera but will they actually be identifiable? Will they actually get caught? They are willing to take the chance because… they still don’t get caught. The crime still pays the majority of the time.

That said, if having cameras was able to decrease crime rates or increase capture and recovery rates by 25% wouldn’t that be worth it? I believe so. I believe it because I have been the victim of multiple different crimes where cameras may have resulted in some piece of useful information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person involved. Maybe I still wouldn’t have gotten my stuff back, but I would know who hit my car in the parking lot and their insurance would be responsible not mine.

Just like so many things in life, our stance on an issue can change when it affects us personally. You are against gay marriage. Then your child comes out. Now your stance changes because you love your child and you long for their happiness and equality to be recognized just like everyone else’s. You are against universal health care until someone in your family is financially ruined by the cost of a medical emergency. You don’t want red light cameras until someone runs a light and hits your vehicle. You are against gun reform laws until someone you know is affected by a mass shooting. You are pro life until someone you love is raped.

Our perspectives tend to shift (sometimes dramatically) when we, or someone we know and care about is affected by the things we once believed. Suddenly our opinions and beliefs shift or evolve.

We have the technology to help reduce crime and/or increase prosecution of crimes. We should be using that as best we can to help those we love and ourselves because you might not want a camera watching your every move at the pool until your phone or purse is stolen or your nephew goes missing. Then, yes then, you just might find yourself wondering where the cameras were. Then it will be too late for you $700 phone; your Gucci bag, credit cards, and $1000 in cash; or the child who is now being held by an unknown stranger.

The time is now to put these things into action and use. When we realize we want them, need the, and value them it might be too late because our opinion had not yet evolved on that issue. It hadn’t evolved because we weren’t actually affected by the issue. It was easy take take our firm high ground stance because it didn’t affect us or anyone we knew. We have to take action on these issues and implement solutions before we need them not after. After may help your neighbor or someone else, but it might be too late for you; just like it is already too late for my stolen things.

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