Is it Just Me, or What? Community, Neighborhoods and Crime…

I’m not feeling safe. There seems to be a spike in violent crime in my city and more importantly my neighborhood lately. A home invasion less than 3 blocks from my house,  a domestic/drug related shooting literally behind the parking lot of my youngest’s elementary school less than a mile from the house (and a neighborhood wide lock down complete with staties and K-9 patrols while the suspect was at large) And just last night an 18 yr old drug dealer stabbed a 30 yr old downtown – also less than a mile from the house.  The Viking was walking the dogs in that area literally minutes before the incident.  I think he dodged a proverbial bullet. Having the dogs with him probably provided him with a measure of safety – or at least distance.  See below for links to the related articles.

Last summer the Viking was awoken to the sound of Sophie and her “Big Girl”,  “I Mean Business” bark.  He checked around and didn’t find anything or anyone. But the next morning he noticed the living room window screen had been completely slit through at the bottom.  Good Girl Soph!  Two summers ago we had a rash of break ins in the neighborhood where women’s pocketbooks left in their kitchens were rifled through and money/credit cards stolen.  Please note: this is a very blue collar neighborhood and section of town.  We aren’t well off by any means and we ALL work very hard for what we do have. Not sure why these neighborhoods are being targeted – other than propinquity.  And if that’s the case then the offenders have obviously never listened to the old adage about not pooping where you dine.   Our dogs provide at the very least a good alarm system but frankly I do worry about my Mom and Stepdad down the street, and others in the area who either can’t afford an alarm system or don’t have a dog.

For years now, I’ve kind of scoffed at my mother for locking her doors during daylight hours when she is home – but I am now seeing the great sense in this. Most of my life I’ve been relatively fearless after taking reasonable precautions.   These days, I’m feeling much more insecure.  Is it aging?  I’m certainly not 25 – but I am in much better health than I was at 40 – so maybe?  Or maybe not. These are our streets, and I would like to be able to sit on my front stoop and watch the world go by – without thinking that every person walking by my house might be casing the joint.  Not that I have anything in here valuable enough to steal – but still…. its mine.

Is this type of crime an unintended consequence of the current generation’s sense of “self entitlement” ? In other words, “I want it, don’t care if its not mine, I’m taking it….” Are we not teaching our children proper boundaries?  Does it harken back to valuing things that are worked for; not handed out?  I’m taking an educated guess here, but I’d say yes to all of the above.  And these days  I often think we are more focused on blaming circumstances /bad parenting etc than on holding offenders accountable for their actions.  If you break the law, there are consequences, period.  That’s the way it should be anyway.  Too often theres too many excuses and not enough restitution or justice.

Which brings me to another point: If greater pride was taken by the neighborhood community perhaps the crime rate would decrease.  So:   How do we instill a sense of pride in our neighborhoods when we barely speak to our neighbors? The Northeast has a pretty frigid reputation when it comes to being neighborly. The lack of fluency in English makes it difficult to communicate well with the increasing number of immigrants in the area. They are often not willing to embrace “American” culture, either. They certainly do not trust the police.   Hardly anyone on my street allows trick or treaters at Halloween anymore – the kids have to go outside the neighborhood.  Another good example is our neighbors across the street hanging their laundry – including unmentionables on the shrubbery in front of their houseQuite the eyeful as I sat here on my front porch, I must say. Repeated requests from all the neighbors went unheeded (a communication issue perhaps), but finally our community police officer had to tell  them in no uncertain terms to hang their laundry in their backyard…. But anyway – we are isolated in our home bubbles.  Going to work each day, coming home, doing our yard work and chores etc and focusing internally.  I  have never ever been to a block party or community party in my neighborhood, and I only know my neighbors a few houses up or down the street on either side.  Which is kind of sad, and admittedly at least partially my fault.

So here’s what I AM going to do.  Continue being nice, first.  It costs nothing to smile after all.  Increase my vigilance and awareness of whats going on in the neighborhood. Including getting out for walks with the Viking and the puppies more often.  The more familiar I am with things, the more likely I am to spot something out of whack. I’ll be checking on our elderly neighbors.  And lastly – we’ll be making sure the canine alarm system stays healthy, and will definitely be locking our doors even when we are home during the day. Any other suggestions or comments would be  most appreciated. Thanks all!

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