Crime: Scratch where it itches

The front pages of both our community newspapers this week have crime-related stories prominently displayed. The Arlington Times headlines a request for information on a luring suspect, The Marysville Globe highlights the efforts of citizens in helping to stop a vicious assault on a Sheriffs officer.
Additionally, Marysville is conducting a search for a new police chief. Candidates for that position are gathering information about the community and how it feels about various aspects of local law enforcement.
Citizens in Arlington have a chance to step forward, some in Marysville stepped forward, both laudable actions. Crime is all around us, it seems. What can we do?
It may be helpful to start a discussion armed with some summary information from City-data.com (see box at right). The information represents a slice of our local crime picture from 2001-2002. While the exact numbers are different for more recent years, the general pattern remains much the same.
It is probably not much of a surprise to see that thefts, auto thefts and burglaries are far and away the top three categories of crime where we live. It may also not be surprising that these crimes are connected to the sale and use of drugs. People are not stealing to put their kids through college, rather they are stealing to keep drugs in their bodies.
The proximity of I-5 and the relative small-town nature of our communities make them prime targets for car thieves. That and the arcane state laws that dont punish [in particular] young offenders make us prime thieving grounds for this scum.
A longtime veteran of the local drug enforcement crime unit recently stated that every parking lot in our communities is the scene of some drug activity several or many times a day. Major drug dealers dont exchange drugs and money with armed gangs of thugs as movies would have us believe. Instead, two cars pull into a parking lot, the drivers exchange keys and vehicles and quietly drive out of the parking lot. The exchange just happened. If you think about it you have probably seen it yourself. But you didnt know enough to report it at the time.
The truth of the matter is that we will never have enough police officers to protect us. Not, that is, without a civilian population that takes the necessary steps to protect itself and aid what officers we do have with intelligent, informed, assistive behavior.
Our local police know plenty about how crime like this works and how to protect oneself from most of it, certainly how to make it very difficult for this kind of crime to be done easily by these parasites on civic life.
Our law enforcement agencies would like to be more pro-actively preventive. They would like to see an environment where the crime tally drops dramatically in every category. They would like to have more officers addressing civic and church groups about crime-proofing yourself, your home, your car.
One of the reasons they cant has to do with an old story you have probably heard yourself. A guy gets pulled over for speeding, maybe going 40 in a 25 mph zone. Hes mad at himself and hes mad at the cop who caught him. After all he (or she) is a respectable member of the community. Why arent you out catching the real bad guys instead of harassing me with a speeding ticket? he (or she) yells.
And you know what? The question is the answer.
No, it is not the only answer. We need to be actively engaged in protecting ourselves from crime in many ways beyond this. But you have to admit it is an interesting starting point. If more of our law-abiding citizens were more law abiding in our vehicles, would our police have more time to focus on the bottom-feeders?

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey, Scott Frank or Margi Hartnett e-mail forum@premier1.net.

Crime in Arlington (2001):
0 murders (0.0 per 100,000)
5 rapes (42.0 per 100,000)
10 robberies (84.0 per 100,000)
38 assaults (319.3 per 100,000)
111 burglaries (932.8 per 100,000)
694 thefts (5831.9 per 100,000)
119 auto thefts (1000.0 per 100,000)
City-data.com crime index = 492.2 (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 330.8)

Crime in Arlington (2002):
0 murders (0.0 per 100,000)
3 rapes (24.9 per 100,000)
12 robberies (99.5 per 100,000)
41 assaults (340.0 per 100,000)
121 burglaries (1003.3 per 100,000)
701 thefts (5812.6 per 100,000)
125 auto thefts (1036.5 per 100,000)
City-data.com crime index = 508.1 (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 328.4)

Crime in Marysville (2001):
0 murders (0.0 per 100,000)
15 rapes (58.3 per 100,000)
26 robberies (101.1 per 100,000)
22 assaults (85.5 per 100,000)
157 burglaries (610.5 per 100,000)
706 thefts (2745.2 per 100,000)
233 auto thefts (906.0 per 100,000)
City-data.com crime index = 300.5 (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 330.8)

Crime in Marysville (2002):
1 murder (3.8 per 100,000)
9 rapes (34.5 per 100,000)
14 robberies (53.7 per 100,000)
30 assaults (115.1 per 100,000)
160 burglaries (613.8 per 100,000)
716 thefts (2746.9 per 100,000)
259 auto thefts (993.6 per 100,000)
City-data.com crime index = 297.7 (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 328.4)

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