News Columns & Blogs

Be safe in your neighborhood, be vigilant

My, local law enforcement officers have their hands full these days. With so much crime, it’s easy for the average law-abiding citizen to get desensitized to news that would once alarm us. What’s another shooting, murder or bank robbery? Especially if it’s way over on the other side of town.

In truth, all those crimes still matter a great deal, especially to the victims and the families of those involved.

But for the rest of us, there’s not enough emotional capital for us to spread around to honestly and deeply care about every one of those violent crimes. If we did, we’d be a society of basket cases.

What still tends to cut through the crime clutter is the latest child molestation case or kiddie porn arrest.

Or any crime of violence in our own neighborhood.

A couple of crimes came uncomfortably close to my neigborhood recently.

A family of five on 37th Street East was visited about midnight one evening by five intruders dressed in black. One of the family members was struck in the head with a pistol, and the family was forced to undress before being herded into a bathroom. The criminals took $472 in cash and four cell phones. Someone also shot a caged dog, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s report.

A few days later, a 70-year-old woman opened the door of her 53rd Avenue East home, near Peridia, and was struck in the head by a man who demanded money. She gave him her purse and the man struck her again. This happened at 3p.m. near a busy highway! The woman was flown to Bayfront Medical Center for treatment of serious head lacerations.

A day later, on April 1, and a few miles to the east in Greenfield Plantation, a juvenile drove into her own driveway from work and was approached by someone with a gun — possibly a paint gun — demanding money, according to the sheriff’s report.

The robber took her wallet and fled. A neighbor reported seeing a red SUV backing down the street at high speed.

I made a point of telling my wife and a neighbor about the crime closest to us, not to alarm them, but so that they remain vigilant.

These crimes are a good reminder to the rest of us that we need to keep our garage doors closed, lock the doors and windows, and exercise caution when entering or leaving our homes.

Want to know what’s happening in your neighborhood? Take a look at the Police Blotter that runs inside the Sunday Herald (see page 4B). It’s a list of police reports broken down by Manatee County law enforcement reporting zones.

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There’s no end to the creativity of the criminal mind. A reader recently brought in a letter he received from an outfit in Canada, which informed him he had won a lottery of $125,000. Of course, he had not entered any Canadian lottery, and after a few long-distance phone calls, he determined that the letter was a fraud and a rip-off.

Ironically, the letter was date-stamped “Fraud — Prevent It.”

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be reached at 708-7916.