03/12/04 — Thieves: They’re becoming terribly brazen

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Thieves: They’re becoming terribly brazen

On a recent night, a Grantham couple thought they heard a vehicle drive into their yard. It was around 2:30 a.m. They decided, in the silence that followed, that perhaps they had been mistaken.

Then the noise re-occurred. There definitely was a vehicle outside. They went to the window just in time to see a truck pulling off with their utility trailer!

It was gone before they could do anything to stop it.

Their trailer hasn’t been seen since.

A few weeks earlier, a southern Wayne County community resident returned home to find his trailer and riding lawnmower had disappeared — in broad daylight.

A neighbor had seen a truck pulling out with the equipment but innocently assumed it was an employee or associate of the owner since his family has a lawn care business.

The owner later was to learn from investigators that an individual in Johnston County has a reputation for “taking orders,” then stealing and delivering specific items.

Unfortunately, there is a difference between “knowing” something and proving it in a court of law.

The incidents point up the continuing need for aggressive Neighborhood Watch programs — and our effective Crime Stoppers.

Under the Neighborhood Watch, residents try to be alert to anything unusual in their communities. This applies especially to strangers or strange vehicles on a neighbor’s property. In such instances, it is important to take note of identifying details, especially automobile tag numbers and descriptions of the vehicles and individuals.

The Crime Stoppers program is predicated on the probability that somewhere out there are individuals who have information that could lead to the identity of thieves and other criminals. And they can be paid for passing that knowledge on to law enforcement officials — without their own identities being known.

Of course, when it comes to stolen property, a person receiving and possessing it can be subject to arrest and prosecution. Owners are well advised to record serial numbers or engrave other identifying marks on items subject to be stolen.

This newspaper’s columns have reports every day on such instances as discussed here.

By making ourselves become more observant and quick to report questionable occurrences, we can curb the scourge of lawlessness that plagues us.

Published in Editorials on March 12, 2004 12:09 PM