True stories with a twist!

Posts tagged ‘crime’

Neighborhood CRIME Watch

Nobody asked me to do it; I volunteered. Why? It sounded like a good idea at the time and a good way to be the first one to get the inside scoop from the police department.

So I became the Neighborhood Watch Representative for our block. I receive messages from the officer assigned to our area, and my job is to send them out to all the neighbors on the block. Through all this communicating with the police department I have learned some tricks that I’ll share with you.   

Burglers want to enter a home, grab the Unknownvaluables and leave before anyone is the wiser, so they stay away from houses that look occupied.Therefore keep some lights on. Set timers to have different lights take turns illuminating different rooms of your house. Outside motion detectors that go on automatically when someone approaches the house are worthwhile investments.

If someone rings your doorbell don’t simply ignore it and hope they’ll go away. But don’t open the door either. Speak through the door so Unknown-1they know that someone is home. If you ignore the bell and the person wishes to break into your house, he might think the house is empty and feel safe to do so.

Teach children their address.

Cut back shrubbery in front of large windows so they don’t shield anyone trying to open a window and enter your home.

Watch out for anyone who seems to periodically linger outside your house. He might be trying to gauge the schedules of your family and strike when he thinks the house is empty.

Copper pipes are a valuable commodity, so if there are any abandoned houses near your house, beware of burglars breaking into them to steal the copper.

And a little tidbit of information, during last year’s super storm, Sandy, police were on guard at gas stations to prevent the theft of gasoline.

Most break-ins were committed in houses that had unlocked doors or open windows.The car thefts took place in cars that were left on the street unlocked.

So please be careful, take a few extra precautions, and be safe.


The bad guys have been caught! The crime of burglary carried out by a professional group of breakers-inners was rampant in our neighborhood. This was too close for comfort, so when the police department invited us to a neighborhood crime watch meeting we were anxious to go.

The police made a strong point that burglars do not want to enter a house when anyone is home. They want to get in, take their loot and leave immediately. They may do a surveillance of the neighborhood, parking a car and watching patterns of homeowners coming and going. People with regular hours, leaving and returning home at the same time every day may be attractive marks for burglars, since it becomes clear when they can break in without anyone being home. If you see a strange car parked in your neighborhood call the police to report it. If you see strange men carrying TV sets and computers out of a neighbor’s house definitely call the police.

The doorbell rings and you look through to see who is there.You don’t recognize the person, what should you do? Ignore the person? If children are in the house with instructions not to open the door for anyone, images-5what should they do? If you don’t respond you may send the message that nobody is home, making your house a target. Speak through the door, without opening it. A ploy often used is the delivery man bringing a package to the wrong address. It is possible to correct the address with the door still closed.

It is a good idea to invest in timers for lights. Set them to put on and shut off lights, radios or TVs at different times. Dogs are great announcers of people coming on your property.

If you see a home having a teen agers’ party with no adults present, report it to the police. There are often older kids there, possible with drug problems. While the party is going on, they may  wander around the house and take anything they could sell for some quick drug money. Often a theft is not noticed until months after the evening of the party, when an adult searches for a piece of jewelry.

Neighbors can cooperate and report any suspicious activity in the area. It helps the police do their jobs more effectively when they have the cooperation of people aware of their surroundings.

But please don’t report ME; I often walk around the neighborhood for exercise, and not to “case” your house!


Why is our society infatuated with crime? Why are the majority of best selling books, popular movies and television shows about crime? Why are criminals often the people we root for? Why are the police often portrayed as unintelligent, while the criminals are clever and smart?

Whether it is murder, theft or kidnapping, American people seem to crave stories about it. The more details the better. The gorier the better. The harder to solve the better.

If I write a new book telling the story of our adventurous move out of our old house, would you want to read about it? I can tell a true tale that is crime related, that I experienced, and that was never solved.

This is how it started. My husband and I, “Empty Nesters,” decided to sell the house we lived in for 31 years and downsize.

That’s a nightmare in itself: emptying the contents of an old family home, with all the stories and memories of our family growing up.

After dividing the possessions we would bring and those we would sacrifice to a house sale, we interviewed moving companies.

The one we eventually chose was represented by a well dressed young man who owned “Man With A Van”. “Our moving crew is a group of men who are all legal, well trained, and have been employees of ours for at least ten years.”

That is impressive. These guys are professionals; they are reliable; they’ll treat our valuables with care, we thought.

A friend asked us, “Did you ever investigate his claims about the length of time the crew worked for him?” .

“No, we did not,” we answered with a tinge of guilt.

“Is your thinking that if you are an honest person you assume others are honest too?”.

Bad assumption. Trusting without verifying is dangerous to the bank account, now I realize.

“Did you mark and label every item going into each carton, and number those cartons,” my friend asked? “Did you have an inventory list of the house’s contents?”

“No. The last time we relocated, it was from our army post, and the United States Army moved us. We never made inventory lists, and everything worked out perfectly.”

Leaving our long time family home was traumatic enough, without labeling and accounting for every item we packed.

Once we were in the new house we didn’t realize it right away.

“It has to be here somewhere,” was our reaction when something we couldn’t find was missing.

But when it came time to hang the paintings we brought from the old house, suddenly the panic hit.

“The precious painting we bought in Paris is not here!” The beautiful still life with the glorious, vital colors. We couldn’t believe it was possible.

“How could moving men walk off with an original oil painting and hope to get away with it?”

It turned out that the Paris purchase was not the only painting missing.

“Have you seen the two charming decoupaged baby dresses from the Lambertville gallery? Where are the lithographs and woodcuts that were the first art we ever collected?”

This was no coincidence. This was no  mistake. This was outright, purposeful theft.

“Oh, no,” my husband shouted. “My collection of coins is missing too. Some of those coins were gold coins, worth a fortune now. I told the men not to touch that box. I told them I would carry it myself.”

We found out later, from the detective assigned to our case, that the moving company had lied to us from the first interview. “The group of men who were assigned to move your things had not worked for the company ten years. Ten days would probably be more accurate. Perhaps they were workers picked up in town, where men stand each morning looking for a day’s work. There’s no way to find these men now,” the detective said. “They move from one place to another without leaving forwarding addresses. And there’s no way to prove anything, ever if we caught them.”

Enjoy your crime novels, friends. I know that real crime is not entertaining. I can’t understand why anybody thinks it is.

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