Scourge of crime hits home

In my job, I frequently write unsigned — and windy — Editorials, decrying injustice and the need for more tolerance, rehabilitation and even redemption. More gun control.

I write about the plight of addiction, about the need to end chronic recidivism among released prisoners, about attacking scourges like gang violence with education and after-school programs, and about more services for the mentally ill, the homeless and the indigent.

But as the saying goes, “a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.” I didn’t say that, but I get it.

Actually, what I get is angry at the criminals, the crooks and thieves, who keep this area on edge. Keep my family on edge.

Last week, for the second time in three months, we were the subject of a break-in at our home.

The first took place in early November. Two bikes were stolen out of our garage. The thief or thieves entered through a side door that had been left temporarily unlocked. While I was out of town, others were staying at our house. We also had construction equipment blocking our driveway, so whoever stole the bikes had to actually lift them overhead to get them out the driveway.

No matter. Gone. I started scouring Craigslist, because stolen bikes often end up for sale on that popular site. I didn’t go to the other popular outlet for dealing with stolen merchandise, the Flea Market, because … I don’t know why. Maybe I just felt it was just a useless, vainglorious search.I replaced the stolen bikes and double locked the new ones and increased security around our garage.

I should note we live in a pretty nice neighborhood, with neighbors who watch out for suspicious activities and are usually quick to report anything. Usually.

Then Thursday I got a call from my wife. My daughter’s car had been broken into and a navigation device and a few other things stolen.  In broad daylight, late afternoon. The thief then moved on to another vehicle parked in the driveway of a rental on our property. Our renter was sitting in her truck finishing a phone call when the thief, obviously not seeing her, tried to get into the vehicle. She got a good look at him. He looked back at her. They both froze. Then he took off. She quickly notified my daughter, who jumped in her car and tried to give chase. Not a good idea, by the way. In any case, the thief melted into the neighborhood.

Sheriff’s deputies were called and showed up quickly. The deputy who filed our report was extremely helpful, I’m told, taking time to get the complete story of what happened, dusting for fingerprints, writing down the details of the sighting. He told the women that he really hoped this case would lead to an arrest. He also lived in the area, he said.

The next day, the Sheriff’s Office called me and followed up, letting me know that with the positive ID there might be a chance at finding the thief.

Was it the same guy, or gang, that stole our bikes a few months before? Beats me.At the same time, I know that the chances of any property crime, or break-in, leading to an arrest are pretty slim.

And despite the headlines in the Sentinel about crime — the daily report of human failings we faithfully pass along — local law enforcement says that reported burglaries, assaults, robberies and rapes in unincorporated Santa Cruz County declined in 2012 compared with the past few years.

There were 723 reported burglaries in unincorporated county areas, which was nearly 200 fewer burglaries than in 2011, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The rate of arrests per burglary also increased from 6.7 percent in 2011 to 7.9 percent in 2012. While that was an improvement, it trails the FBI’s national average of 12.7 percent of arrests per burglary in 2011.

The rate of arrest per violent crimes — such as assault and robbery — was about 39.5 percent in 2012 for the Sheriff’s Office. The national average was 47.7 percent in 2011.Of course, there are far more property crimes than violent crimes, and it’s good news whenever large-scale burglary rings are apprehended, which does happen.

One such successful ending came last August 2012, when a man and woman were arrested after allegedly breaking into numerous homes, cars and storage units to gather identity information.

And I have to admit I got more than a little satisfaction when our crime reporter came back Thursday with the news that two brazen bike thieves had been caught in Santa Cruz. Both were caught trying to steal bikes by cutting their locks.  Our county government reporter also may have been temporarily satisfied, since he’d had his bike stolen after he’d locked it at the county Government Center on Ocean Street last week. Apparently, the reading public agreed — as of Friday afternoon, our account of the arrests was the most read story in our constantly updating online list.

Look, I know for every report of a crime, there’s probably several others that never are called in. And I also know, I haven’t been as vigilant or security conscious as I should be. I’ve had cars broken into before (one time I actually reached the thief who stole my cell phone by just calling my number).

But how do we want to live and what are we willing to put up with?

Day in, day out, in my job as editor of the local newspaper, I hear from Santa Cruz County residents who have had enough of street crime, of the proliferation of drug addicts and dealers and the crime and mess they bring with them, of ever-new recruits into criminal gangs who think jail is a badge of honor.

And I think, We’re a tolerant community, but enough’s enough.

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4 Responses to Scourge of crime hits home

  1. Anonymous says:

    Finally, you’re wising up!u00a0 Enough is enough!u00a0 nnSo, what are you going to do about it?u00a0 Do you still support our current “catch and release” program?u00a0 Do you support lenient sentences for third-time offenses for local legends?u00a0 Do you still support enabling the chronic homeless who are not local?u00a0 Do you still support non-compliance of drug enforcement and sanctuary city status?u00a0 Please inform us.nnSince you live in a “nice” community of Aptos with vigilant neighbors, think of what the rest of us have to tolerant on a daily basis and why we get frustrated with an enabling City Council, BOS, and “tolerant” vocal community members.nnWhat are YOU going to do about this?u00a0 Be prepared to be called Hater, Racist, and whatever wrongful epithet is chosen to divert from the real problems.nn

  2. Good2bhere says:

    “I should note we live in a pretty nice neighborhood in Aptos…Weu2019re a tolerant community, but enoughu2019s enough.”u00a0well the first quote answers the second…andu00a0seriously, is enough, ENOUGH?nu00a0u201ca conservative is a liberal whou2019s been mugged.u201d…and do you really get IT?

  3. Jonathan says:

    Yes, you are absolutely right HeSaid1. nI also call on you, Don, to step up now and begin to overtly support an end to the crime-ridden mess Santa Cruz County has become. You may have called it “tolerance” or “support” at one time, now let’s re-label it for what it is: enabling. Enough with the needle exchange. Enough with so-called sanctuary city, enough with druggies hanging out all over the place stealing, begging for money, enough of the trash, human and otherwise, along the river downtown and in our parks everywhere. nnWhen you, Don, say “enough is enough” what exactly do you mean? You are in a position of power here to balance out articles in the Sentinel which have mainly looked favorably on the many, many offerings this town provides for the downtrodden. How about beginning to balance those out with articles that show the other side. It makes me sick that a video had to be posted on you tube before anything was done about the encampments at Collins Beach. It makes me sick that the homeless center didn’t do background checks on its inhabitants until one of them murdered a well-loved Santa Cruz citizen. In fact, it makes me sick that so much of downtown, like Coral St., like the river walkway, is basically off limits to any sane individual, particularly one with children in tow. Your reporters should be writing on this every single day until the tenor of this town begins to shift from a drug and gang-banging mecca into a place people actually want to spend time in.nnAnd this is a serious request: now that you know first-hand what many of us have unfortunately already experienced, please shift the focus of what you print in the paper. Give some space to articles that keep community focus on all the crime that has overrun this town and this county. Highlight what is wrong with the downtown area. I understand that you want to encourage tourists and consumers to go down there, but in reality it’s still a mess. I moved my business out of there a few years ago. You should spotlight all of this until the city council gets the point and makes decisions which will restore safety to the city, and in so doing, to the county.nBy the way, I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through recently. But you of all people should know that you’re in a position to put a stop to it.u00a0 I sincerely hope you will.

  4. Anonymous says:

    u00a0Who knows what oversight is happening at HSC.u00a0 Their first director was found to be an active drug and alcohol abuser and a confessed child molester.u00a0 In other words, he was not vetted properly.u00a0 Even now, Martinezu00a0 will not comply with giving identity cards to its clients, or do background checks.u00a0 She “meets” with law enforcement on a regular basis to what avail?u00a0 No one really knows the percentage of non-locals being helped.u00a0 I have seen stated anywhere from 30 to 70 % not being local.nnIf we even ask these questions, we’re told we’re being haters and discriminating of the “homeless”.u00a0 Don Lane ran part of his re-election for taking credit for the very small amount of reform in this area, when in fact, had and Katherine Beiers did NOT approve of these measures and actually fought against them.u00a0 It was Ryan Coonerty, Hilary Bryant, and Lyn Robinson who started the process after the tragedy of Shannon Collins murder.nnBut what IS being done?????

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