Crime Beat

Only You Can Prevent Local Crime

I made the mistake of signing up on the NextDoor app, thinking it would have locals talking about local issues.

It’s not quite that.

It’s almost exclusively middle-aged women talking about pets — lost pets, cute pets, pets who poop indiscriminately, pet moms demanding search parties to find lost Amazon packages containing snacks, treats, sweaters for their…yep…pets.

If it’s not pets it’s crime. There have been instances where the gossip was warranted. When we moved to the West Side of Albuquerque, there was a murder-suicide two blocks from our house. Three weeks ago, a body was dumped in the middle of the road less than a mile away. Sunday night a wannabe Walter White blew himself up attempting to “enhance” marijuana.

But this is the West Side. The drugs, the murders, the vagrancy — that’s generally concentrated on the other side of town, where the food shelters are, the government housing, the methadone clinics and tent communities.

Our neighborhood is mostly quiet. Other than the occasional Mexican cartel dumping the occasional body in the street (no biggie), the karens on NextDoor divert attention from their “furry children” only to complain about their car getting broken into or local thugs casing their house.

I mock this because it’s like salad dodgers complaining about being fat or criminals complaining about police. Every house in our neighborhood has a garage, and five blocks away there’s a storage facility. You don’t need a doctorate in problem solving. Clean out your garage and put your car in it!

We like to walk. The kids ride their bikes. We work in the front yard, gardening, playing, hanging out. But even during COVID when every kid is home-schooled and half the population is out of work, there’s not a soul in sight. The parks are empty. The school playground is a vacant lot. It’s 75 degrees but feels like the set of The Omega Man.

I tried pointing this out. I politely at first, then rudely explained that if you abandon a car on a deserted street, IT WILL EVENTUALLY BE STOLEN, and on appearance alone our neighborhood looks abandoned, so GO OUTSIDE YOU VITAMIN D-DEFICIENT HERMIT!

There are three elements needed for a crime to be occur: Ability, Opportunity, and Desire.

You can’t single-handedly prevent ability or curb desire, but you can limit opportunity, and the best way to do that is with your presence.

Forget national policing protocols or the immigration crisis. Don’t bother trying to convince people that if they graduate high school, marry before they reproduce, and work full time (called the success sequence), then their odds of living in poverty are almost zero. Forget about state budget allotments for crime prevention and law enforcement resources. There are too many tentacles to fight the government leviathan.

Control what you have control over, and if it’s not citywide or even neighborhood-wide, it’s your street, your home, yourself.

There’s no guarantee that you will never have to physically defend yourself or your home. Police are called when a crime has already taken place, when there’s already a victim, and in times like these, when police are increasingly reluctant to engage with suspects for fear of making a mistake that jeopardizes their life and career, it’s more important than ever to be capable and ready to be your own source of protection.

Well-lit areas reduce the odds of crime because criminals don’t want to be seen. A criminal walking in a neighborhood full of people outside will keep on walking. If we all worried about ourselves and what’s ours — if we all sat on our porch with a newspaper and a Dirty Harry glare — we’d have a direct and immediate effect on crime.