Friday, April 7, 2023

Insight: Not fitting the pattern

Not long before his death, the longtime director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, held a press conference to announce the results of a nationwide study of crime in America. The study surveyed police records from 2,400 U.S. cities and towns in the early 1970s and 50 years later, a recent national crime report eerily echoes findings that Hoover originally confirmed in 1973.

Here’s a summary of results reported:

Burglaries most commonly take place during the months of December, January, and February.

The most probable day and time for burglaries is on a Saturday evening.

Most burglaries take place between the hours of 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The greatest number of violent assaults, rapes, and murders are reported during the months of July and August.

Most murders are committed on a weekend.

The largest number of murders are committed between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and mostly happen at night.

Speaking from personal experience, the burglary that took place at our home in the late 1980s did not fit the pattern.

One summer, we had hired a contractor that our family had used previously for a project to install some new windows and create a new family room addition off the kitchen of our house. This contractor was well respected in the community and had known us for years. He was enthusiastic, kept costs down and did excellent work.

The contractor was in his late 60s and had two of his nephews and his son helping him perform the work. They always arrived on time and were polite and respectful as they spent time at our home.

We brought them water and my wife even made sandwiches for lunch for them one afternoon. We invited them inside where it was cool and to take a break when the temperature outside topped 100 degrees.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the experience of having them work at our home. After a week and a half, all the necessary work was finished, we paid the contractor and he and his crew left. We were thrilled to have a beautiful new family room complete with a new wood stove, new carpeting and two large windows to look out over the back of our property.

The bill was exactly as the contactor had quoted us and he even painted the new family room to show his appreciation for hiring him and his crew for our project.

Several weeks went by and we resumed our normal routines of working, going to school and caring for my wife’s elderly mother, who was bed-ridden and in poor health.

Then something odd happened. When I arrived home from work one afternoon, I noticed that the VCR under our television was missing and that was unusual because I taped a three-hour block of ABC soap operas (All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital) every day for her. She arrived home from a college nursing class not long thereafter and we quickly determined that our home had been burglarized.

Missing was $800 in cash taken from the drawer of an antique coffee grinder on a shelf in the kitchen, a box of old 1950s baseball cards from a closet, expensive jewelry from her mother’s dresser drawers, a chainsaw, a .22 rifle, my Air Force field jacket, the VCR, and several pieces of antique ivory that my mother-in-law had brought home from India after World War II.

We immediately called the police and reported the burglary. They came out and investigated and said they would get back to us if they found out anything.

A couple of weeks passed, and both my wife and I were sickened by what happened. We did not feel safe in our own home and felt like someone had violated our private space and lost our sense of security.

Then we received a phone call from the police. An arrest was made following the discovery of a few of our stolen items at a pawn shop about 40 miles away. I had kept the serial number of the chainsaw from when I purchased it and had also jotted down the serial number of the .22 rifle and turned that information over to the police when we reported the crime.

The police informed us that they had arrested the son of the contractor for burglarizing our home. His personal information had been taken when he sold the pawn shop the chainsaw and the .22 rifle. Apparently, this fellow was addicted to drugs and admitted to the police that he had installed the family room windows while working at our home and knew how to open them easily on a day when we weren’t there.

The chainsaw and the rifle were the only items police recovered and we have no idea what happened to the other items. He sold the rifle and chainsaw for cash to buy drugs and we weren’t aware he was on probation after being released from jail for burglary. The lesson here is to always be aware of who’s working at your home and to protect your valuables at all times. We didn’t and paid the price. <

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