CORAL SPRINGS, FL - This weekend, TAPInto Coral Springs listed the Coral Springs Police Department’s weekly crime report.
The good news is Detroit or Chicago you’re not. In fact, you’re nowhere near in crime of the cities in urban America. Yet crime, even “petit,” or better known as petty, crime is unnerving, aggravating, and costly in time and money.
The bad news is most of it is your fault.
Let’s look at three classifications of crime: theft from a car, theft of a car, and fraud. First, know that these crimes and many others are called crimes of opportunity.
It isn’t only that someone sees a pocketbook unattended in a supermarket shopping cart, or worse yet, unattended and open, and grabs it. Yes, that is a crime of opportunity. This was an unplanned crime that would not have happened had you the brains to do what you always preach to your children, “Take care of your stuff!” Yet time and again people do exactly such things.
There are also organized crimes of opportunity. A group of ne’re do wells or a minor league gang is looking to make a score. Like Fagan’s boys in Oliver Twist they fan out looking for people who give them the opportunity to make a quick score. They are looking, for instance, for an addled, hurried, forgetful person who realizes he or she forgot the spaghetti, sees that, thank goodness, it is only four or five feet away in the same row, and sees no need to wheel the cart through the aisle’s traffic so.
Right up there are those of you who don’t lock your car doors because…why? You’re in your own neighborhood? You’re in front of your own house? Nobody is around? What would anyone want that’s in your car?
You return and find out the answer to that question. You thought you’d hidden your cell phone. You didn’t need your wallet or pocketbook, just some change for a soda so you put it under something and left it. Or “OMG! They took the whole radio!” “Or why is the trunk open? OMG the spare tire. It was here when I left…”
The stupidity is compounded by not locking your car at night, or putting the car in the garage and not locking the garage, or forgetting to set the alarm in the car because it only sets when you lock it. Now you’ve given someone all night to prove how many things in a car are detachable and as long as there is so much time many things in the garage can easily be grabbed for a quick sale on the street like those golf clubs or power tool set you got for Christmas.
And here’s a throw-a-way thought—leaving your car running while you’ll only be a second to get something you forgot in the house or didn’t buy at Wawa or 7-11. Don’t do that. And don’t do this—carry your cell phone in your back pocket even if it is hidden by your long, tropical shirt. Hidden from you but not hidden from the person looking for that body line that has written on it, “Come and get me.”
Surely, while filing out the crime report, the police officer will remind you how many crimes are crimes of opportunity and how you must be careful not to give someone that opportunity. BTW, more cops than would own up to it do the same thing and have their weapons and computers stolen from their police cars.
But as long as the car is open, let’s think big. “Why,” thinks the robber, “should I drag this stuff from one car to another and risk dropping something that will wake someone? Why not pile everything I want into the car and just take the car?”
Comes morning, you’re late for work, you open the garage door, or run out the door that takes you to where the car usually is—in front of the house, in the carport on the side? You’re hit with a “what’s wrong with this picture?” scene. When they find the car again you are amazed by how much the robbers found that is detachable from it. Now someone is driving around in a 12-year-old Honda with your 2020 BMW sound system making him happy as a clam.
Fraud is different. It’s still mostly your fault—except in some sad cases.
Fraud in common parlance is pulling the wool over someone’s eyes or pulling a fast one on someone.
The most famous one is the “Prince” from Nigeria’s letter declaring you a multi-millionaire if only…. Another popular one is the letter announcing someone had bought you a ticket in the Irish Sweepstakes and you hit it big. Millions await you, if only…
Most common in South Florida is the caller looking for a lonely, elderly person who they keep on the phone until a trust is established, and they get the person to reveal -- passwords, social security numbers, or bank card numbers. There are even frauds aimed at writers, many. They offer fake names and fake credentials of “professionals” selling some kind of book, set of tapes, year-long Zoom course often for thousands of dollars. Guess what?
The worst of the worst are those who call in the middle of the night claiming to be the responder’s grandchild. Hysterical they have been robbed, been kidnaped and held for ransom, were in a terrible accident and need to pay the hospital, etc, etc ad nauseam. The fix? Could grandma or grandpa wire…
Fishermen tell me that in every lake there is a fish that has an instinct about the delicious-looking fly bobbing just above his head. His instinct says fraud. He grows fat and happy. We need to cultivate that instinct because when it comes to fraud, as Milton Berle used to say about jokes, “I gotta million of ‘em, folks.”
If you fall for the fraud, you will see the sign from Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.” Why? How many credit cards do you have? How many bank accounts do you have? How many loans do you have?
Life without that instinct becomes hell.
Read William A. Gralnick’s recent columns for TAPinto Coral Springs:
A resident of South Florida for more than 30 years, Bill Gralnick has written more than 900 op-eds and columns for newspapers around the country, including columns for the Brooklyn Eagle.
His latest book, found on Amazon.com, Kindle or paperback, is the coming-of-age memoir, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn.”
His writings can be found on his website: williamgralnickauthor.com
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