Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Greg Jordan

February 14, 2013

Precautions, observant neighbors can make it tougher for would-be thieves

— — When you listen to the police scanner in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s newsroom, you’re bound to hear the words “break in” sooner than later. We’ve been hearing those words fairly frequently during the past few months, and the words “burglary” and “break in” appear on local police blotters. It seems that a combination of sour economic times and the region’s continuing drug problem fuel the problem. Addicts needs cash, so they steal from homes in order to get it.

I realized the problem’s scope a couple of months ago when somebody broke into the home of one of my aunts up in Fayette County. She was gone when somebody entered her home in broad daylight and stole some jewelry. Troopers with the West Virginia State Police detachment there are keeping an eye out for the stolen goods, so there is some hope she will get the jewelry back. My mom and dad got a home security system installed soon afterward.

I haven’t been a victim of a break-in myself — a burglar might be alarmed if he came into my place, especially in the dark. Yes, that shadow in the corner is what you think it is (a snake) — but I’m not counting on my luck holding out. I’m taking precautions, too. One precaution includes getting an alarm. The fact I work an odd reporter’s schedule that makes my presence at home unpredictable, too, works in my favor.

I’m also careful about what I leave outside. The most a would-be thief might find outside my door is a beat up snow shovel. One time I left a big gargoyle outside my door and somebody stole it. Half the neighborhood had angels, gnomes, deer and other animals in their front yards, but somebody chose to steal my gargoyle. I’ve never left anything I even halfway value outside ever since that time.

My gargoyle has never been found, but I do know that local law enforcement agencies have made arrests that have solved strings of burglaries. Sometimes I see a cycle in action; thieves steal stuff, get arrested, and a new string of thieves get to work. It’s frustrating, so all we can do is frustrate their larcenous efforts.

I always make sure my mailbox and newspaper box are empty. Important and personal mail goes to a post office box so it can’t be stolen from the mailbox. If thieves want to steal my bills and pay them, that’s fine.

I have neighbors who live close by, and at least one of us is at home all the time. If somebody I don’t know is coming in and out of their homes with goods in hand, I’m calling 911, and I know they will do the same for me. One of the best alarms is neighbors’ eyes and ears.

We can’t stop all burglaries, especially if the intruders are brazen and desperate, but we can reduce the chances for a break in by taking some precautions and being willing to report trouble.

lll

While I was getting ready for work Wednesday morning, I flicked on the television to see if any of the “Law & Order” shows were playing; instead, I saw a news clip from the big Westminister Dog Show. I saw an animal I think was a dog.

My sister, Karen, could tell you the name of most every breed of dog parading through that show. I know our editor, Samantha Perry, could tell you. Me? A dog is something with four legs that barks. I can identify breeds I know such as a beagle or a German shepherd, but one of those canines shaped like an antelope and covered with hair that looks like acrylic yarn? It’s a Babylonian Imperial something or other (or, as Samantha informed me, a komondor). You see huge dogs that could handle a saddle, and then there are those tiny canines that look like they need batteries. It’s interesting to learn how the heck these breeds came to be.

I was glad to see a beagle, a good fashioned “dog,” win that show a couple of years ago. You could imagine that dog playing with your kids and running to greet you when you came home from work. I guess I prefer the plain old family dogs, the mutts with no fancy breed names and no fancy titles that sound like something you would give a Russian admiral. There’s only one name to remember, like Rufus or King.

What do dogs think when they watch those shows with their canine colleagues dolled up and strutted around? Do they think canine versions of “better you than me,  bud” or “ you have to be kidding?” They don’t dream of trophies and being on television. They dream of a good home, enough to eat, and owners who appreciate them. They understand what’s really important.

I occasionally visit the Mercer County Animal Shelter for a story, and I almost always see a dog I would like to take home. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and work with an odd schedule, so keeping a dog wouldn’t fit into my routine. I just hope that the dog I spotted is able to find a good home. Shelter dogs and cats are not fancy show animals, but they reward good care with unconditional love. They won’t win big shiny trophies, but their idea of a trophy is a nice place to sleep and a warm rub on the back.

Greg Jordan is senior reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com.

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