John Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2008

Learning the hard way too expensive; locking up urged

Too many are learning the hard way.

Folks in the Green Acres area whose parked cars early June 30 were ransacked for valuables learned not to leave cash, purses, wallets, credit cards, firearms, cameras, cell phones and so on in their unlocked cars. Hopefully they also learned to lock their cars.

Out in the county, too many are also learning the hard way, Panola Sheriff Hugh W. “Shot” Bright said.

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“Put it up; lock it up,” the sheriff said.

“They’ll steal an extension cord from your yard,” he added.

And it’s getting worse. Higher fuel prices, the sagging economy and high prices paid for scrap metal contribute to the growing propensity to thievery, the sheriff said.

Farmers need to put gates up, locks on fuel tanks, locks on outbuildings and farm headquarters, Bright continued.

Deputies regularly patrol farming operations every night, but a deputy can only be in one place at a time. Often when thefts are reported, the victim asks: “‘Why can’t y’all put a stop to this?’” the sheriff reported. The deputies investigate to find “no locks on anything,” he added.

I will admit to having raised my eyebrows at the ease with which the Green Acres auto owners allowed themselves to be victimized — unlocked cars holding such worthy loot.

And when one of our staff members reported that she and her husband had also been easy victims of a nighttime car burglar who found easy pickings in their unlocked car, I rolled my eyes at how easy they had made it for the burglar.

The following morning, after a nighttime porch-sitting session at Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast, I awoke to find that I had left wide open and unlocked all night long the front side door that faces the intersection of Highway 6 and Eureka Street.

Fortunately, if anyone noticed they broached no nefarious notions that would have led to their taking advantage of the obviously gaping opportunity my negligence presented.

And I didn’t tell Miss Annie-Glenn about it either.