I park my car in my driveway. I have a garage, but it’s full of things that should be in the storage unit I rent. So I park in the driveway. I lock my car when I do this. Despite the fact that I live in suburbs that are extremely low crime, one of the crimes that is actually becoming prevalent is people walking neighborhoods and going through cars that are parked outside and unlocked. These people aren’t breaking in. They don’t want to set off alarms, and also, they may have actually convinced themselves that the unlocked doors constitute an invitation or something equally inane. But the truth is that it is happening. Much like people taking packages off doorsteps. They are low risk crimes, theoretically, with potentially high payoff.
Because these crimes are pretty rampant all over, the internet is full of videos of people trying to catch and/or deal with the people who commit them. And also reports of people, despite having video of thieves committing theft, being told by police that there is “nothing they can do”.
All this, and I sleep well at night knowing my car is locked. I have taken all the precaution needed to secure my car and foil the low energy criminals who are barely a step above the kids who empty the candy bowl on Halloween that is clearly labeled “Please take ONE!”
What I didn’t do in response to reports of the thieves is go buy a fence and put it around my front yard and install a lockable gate at the end of my driveway. Nor did I set up cameras, or motion activated lights. Nor did I go buy a gun, or many guns, to safeguard my car. I simply make sure I lock my car, which is the logical and appropriate response.
And this is coming from a guy who has had his car broken into nearly a dozen times. I’ve lost many stereos, stacks of CDs, a fairly expensive audio learn Spanish set, and a roadside assistance kit. Not to mention having had to replace literally the most expensive windows on my car – seriously, they always break the tiny window (probably because it makes the least sound and mess) and that window costs more than replacing a windshield!
Other people, the ones who build fences and set up cameras and buy extra guns, are giving in to fear. They are letting irrational responses to simple problems run away with them, and likely dreaming up illogical scenarios that stem from what are ultimately tiny crimes. “Oh, first it is rifling through the car, then they’ll be sneaking in the back door and raping my family! I have to stop them dead in their tracks! What is this world coming to when a man can’t leave his car unattended and unlocked outside and not have a small chance that someone might take the things they leave in that car instead of bringing them in?”
It’s hard not to give in to fear, especially when you see your neighbors doing it. But it’s important to do so. It is important that a person analyses their own actions periodically to make sure the response and attention they are giving to something is appropriate. Because once you start giving in to fear, you’ll start fearing things even when there is nothing to fear.
If you are walking the streets in a city, one should be wary of strangers on poorly lit streets. But most people you pass, and even those vagrants and homeless, not only aren’t there to harm you, they may not even pay you any mind at all. So reacting to every person who walks your way after dark as if they are coming at you with malice and a knife is going to turn your life into a prison. You will be constantly afraid. You’ll even begin to fear the brightly lit streets, or even walking them in daylight. You’ll begin warning people you don’t even know when you overhear them talking about going out in the street. You’ll start asking why there aren’t more cops patrolling the streets. You’ll start listening to the people who tell you you’re right to be afraid. You’ll start voting for people who promise to keep the streets safe, even if they have no history of doing so, with no regard of what else they have to say.
Then, one day, you’ll find yourself wondering why the city streets are always so empty, why the city feels cold and lifeless. You’ll ask why can’t things be like they used to be, when the streets were safe and people would go out walking at night.
And it probably won’t ever occur to you how things got to here from there.