Natatia Bledsoe is the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.
Don’t give criminals opportunity for crime.
During the first four months of 2011, we have noticed an increase in the number of thefts from patrons and employees of commercial establishments. From January through April of this year, twenty-five individuals have reported that their purses, wallets, or cell phones were stolen while they were inside a business such as a restaurant or store. Most of the victims told police that they had turned their back for just a moment and then later discovered that their property was missing.
In order for a crime to take place, three elements must exist: a victim, a perpetrator, and opportunity. Of course, any one of us could be a victim of some type of crime, and perpetrators are walking around all over the place disguised as normal unremarkable people. The one factor that we as potential victims can control to some degree is opportunity.
Many larceny suspects who have been arrested and interviewed tell detectives that they look for the easy opportunity to steal. They check car doors to see if they are unlocked and they notice bar patrons who aren’t paying attention to their belongings. They look for valuable items left in plain view and unattended. And they count on the normal activity and comings and goings that occur in grocery stores and busy restaurants to hide their criminal movements.
I know this advice seems obvious, but still we take reports every day from people who don’t take the simplest precautions to protect themselves.
So…. don’t leave your cell phone on the bar or at your dining table, even if your friends are sitting right there. Ladies, don’t hang your purse on the back of your chair or leave it in your grocery cart while you shop because it takes less than a moment for the thief to grab the wallet out of it. Keep your hands and/or your eyes on your personal property while you are out in public. Aside from the financial pain of losing your money and belongings, it is such an inconvenience to have to cancel your credit cards and replace your driver’s license. (I shudder to think of all the contact information I would lose if my cell phone were stolen.)
This is not about blaming the victim. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the criminals who are the bad guys. But let’s just make it harder for those bad guys to conduct their business.