I suggest walking around like a crazy person
Well, it's Friday, so how about some lighter fare? Today, while sipping my coffee, I ran across this interesting tidbit in Akron's West Side Leader about a presentation on personal safety. I personally found it fairly entertaining. Of course, I'm a mean-spirited know-it-all, but let's not let that stop us from taking a look-see:
WEST AKRON â€” In the United States, 83 percent of Americans own their own homes, according to Summit County Sheriffâ€™s Office Deputy Mark Carroll. There are many things people can do to feel safe in their homes.Yeah, um, A: what does it matter whether you own your home or not? Am I not allowed to feel safe in my home if I'm a renter? And, B: It is not in any way true that 83 percent of Americans own their homes. Pretty sure Officer Carroll just completely made that up. Good lede, though. Solid. And, of course, I hate to be all critical of a well-meaning article about keeping people safe (not true. I love it! I don't hate it all! I'm a bad person), but there is a lot of stuff here that just doesn't make sense:
There are many things people can do to help protect themselves against crime. Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Greg Peacock stressed prevention, whether you live in the inner city or a suburb. He said to have a safety plan in case of a break-in â€” a designated room to go to, an escape plan â€” and keep a phone close to the bed to call 9-1-1.Those things do not prevent crime. They are things to do when a crime is happening.
He stressed that women as well as men can be pursesnatchers and they often work in pairs â€” one to distract and one to snatch. Donâ€™t talk on a cell phone as you walk to your car; be alert and keep looking around as you walk, Peacock said. In fact, â€œwalk around like youâ€™re a crazy person and theyâ€™ll leave you alone,â€ he advised.Be alert=good advice. Walk around like a crazy person=seems impractical.
To help emergency response teams, display your house number clearly on the front of your house, but do not include your name. Once every three seconds, someone is the victim of identity theft, said Carroll, and the thieves â€œwant to put a name to an address to a phone number. Theyâ€™ll start researching you if they have a name and address.â€ For the same reason, donâ€™t put your address on your luggage, he said.Okay, I don't really see how this advice could be harmful, but I'm trying to figure out how it could be bad to have a would-be thief connect your name with your address with your phone number. Aren't those three things linked in about 200 million entries in phone books all over the country? Have these people not heard of the Internets? Basically, if you have any information about anybody, you can discover their address and phone number. Does anyone think crooks go around walking neighborhoods looking for names attached to house numbers and then starting the identity theft process that way? Also, how is having my address on my luggage going to come back to haunt me exactly? The airlines will be even worse at delivering it? That one I just don't get.
If you come home and suspect your house has been burglarized, donâ€™t go in â€” call the police. If you call from a landline, 9-1-1 will automatically identify the address and send help right away, he said.Classic. You just told me not to go in the house. If I go to a neighbor's, it will be the wrong address.
Signs â€” such as â€œBeware of Dogâ€ or a security company sign â€” are another good deterrent to intruders, said Carroll, as is a dog itself or an electronic barking machine if you donâ€™t have a dog.This is the first we've heard of a security company or security system. Should I get a system? No, not necessarily, but I should get a sign, apparently.
Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call, Carroll stressed. â€œForty or 50 years ago we could trust people. Things are different now,â€ he said.This might be my favorite part of all. Back in the day, people were nicer and we could trust people. Right. I hate revisionist history about as much as any form of intellectual dishonesty. Drives me insane. In reality, we're about as safe as we've every been in the last 40 years, though, yes, 50 years ago is a different story, I guess. Look at the crime statistics: 1960 - population 179,323,175, total crimes 3,384,200, burglaries 912,100, all larceny theft 1,855,400. So, there was one crime for every 53 people in 1960. A burglary for every 197 people. A theft for every 97 people. That's 50 years ago. 1970 - population 203,235,298, total crimes 8,098,000, burglaries 2,205,000, all larceny theft 4,225,800. That's a crime for ever 25 people. A burglary for every 92 people. A theft for every 48 people. 2008? Well, population 304,059,724, total crimes 11,149,927, burglaries 2,222,196, all larceny theft 6,588,873. So, that's a crime for every 27 people, a burglary for every 136 people, a theft for every 46 people. So, yes, 50 years ago, maybe you could trust people. Forty years ago, you were considerably more likely to have your house broken into. I wouldn't trust those people as far as I could throw them (and with my bad hip...). And don't even get me started on 1980: One crime for every 17 people! No wonder people elected a cowboy to the White House. They must have been scared to death. Nor is it true that the age of the Internet means you can trust people less. While identity theft is on the rise, only 11 percent of it occurs via the Internet. In reality, we are safer now than we've been since 1968 or so, and crime has been falling continuously since at least 1991. Maybe there's been an uptick in 2009 because of historically bad economic conditions, but we don't yet have data on that that I've been able to find. And now that I know people are walking around like crazy people so that they'll be less likely to be victims of pursesnatchers, maybe I trust people even more. The people I thought were crazy are actually just practicing good safety habits.