I starting pondering theft tonight; no particular reason. I guess it might have started from a story on the news today about a major bust of a credit/debit card fraud organization. I’ve written about identity theft, and card skimming scams – today however, my mind is contemplating physical theft – break and enter crime.

As a kid we never even locked our doors. Small towns are like that, at least they used to be. It wasn’t until I moved to the big city that my lessons in theft and robbery began. My first lesson was brazen; staying at my mother’s apt., Mom in one bedroom with her door closed, me in a second with door open, and my brother sleeping on the sofa.We woke in the morning, had been awake for close to an hour when the phone rang. Somebody was calling to say they had just found my purse in an alley a few blocks away. We had no idea we had even been robbed. Further investigation proved the thief had gone through the pockets of my brother’s pants; gone were his wallet, keys, and car from the underground parking garage. Unbelievable – not one of us stirred as this prowler moved about in the night. Truly one of the most disturbing moments in my young life.

Over the years, despite heightened awareness and precautions taken, more than once I came home to find my drawer contents tossed on the floor. These situations weren’t scary, they just pissed me off. Thieves can make quite a mess of things when they don’t have to tippy toe in the night. Nothing creepy happened again until my wallet was stolen at work. A few days later I got a call from a man calling himself Johnny. Johnny had my wallet and would sell it back to me for $75.00, I was supposed to meet him at the corner of Main/Hastings (which if you know Vancouver would not have been a good idea) Johnny said I could identify him by the 3 tear-drops tattooed under one eye. I can’t imagine Johnny was too happy when met by a squad car, not a woman with $75.00. The police who returned my wallet said he wasn’t a very nice man, but assured me he wouldn’t be bothering me again. I wasn’t so sure; for anyone who’s watched The Simpsons, Johnny was our “Sideshow Bob” – for weeks we looked over our shoulders, expecting Johnny to break down the door at any moment.

We live in a technological era of alarm systems, motion detectors, security cameras, and pass-codes. We can’t ride elevators or enter buildings without a fob, security check points, metal detectors; all tools keeping us safe at home, work, and abroad. There’s good reason for this protection, in fact we demand our security – home security and alarm monitoring businesses have grown in number faster than just about any other business over the last few years.

So I ponder – where do we draw the line? Non of us want “big brother” breathing down our necks, but all of us demand security.

Trayvon Martin for Target Practice

I just can’t help myself. No amount of willpower justifies tight lips on this news tidbit. On  Friday Sgt. Ron King  of the Port Canaveral police department in Florida, was fired after he offered a likeness of Trayvon Martin for target practice. The only saving graces being that the other officers refused to fire at them, and this disgraceful police officer lost his job.

Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old black youth, visiting his father at a gated community in Sanford, Florida. As he walked home from the corner store, bag of candy in hand, talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend; Community Watch volunteer George Zimmerman spotted him. Trayvon told his girlfriend he was scared; he was being followed and didn’t know what to do. Several 911 calls are public record, the first is Zimmerman calling police to report a suspicious thug, the second from a woman reporting gunshots with Trayvon crying for help in the background. The police clearly tell Zimmerman not to take action; undaunted it appears he appointed himself judge, jury, and ultimately executioner. Zimmerman claimed he acted in self defence – it took weeks of public outcry and media condemnation before Zimmerman was charged with a crime. The case goes to trial in June.

I realize the actions of Sgt.. King represent an isolated incident. I’m pondering Zimmerman’s mindset, being quite certain many more Americans inhabit the same head space. Listening these past months to gun advocates rationalize how guns don’t kill people, people kill people,  violent media and working parents contribute to the problem, or mental health issues need to be addressed – I wonder where the George Zimmermans of this world fit in.

I humbly offer this suggestion – children learn by example, and perhaps America needs to tighten up the practice of arming volunteers. Creating paranoia never comes with a happy ending. Try to remember how it was to be a child. Media violence isn’t the culprit – hysterical parents strike fear into hearts of the young. Keep your guns if you have to America, but keep them out of the shaking hands of zealous volunteer watch dogs.