Break-ins causing changes
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:05 AM
I'm fairly lax about security because it's never been an issue for me, living and working in our area that has a low crime rate. I've probably worried more about cybercrime out of fear that our network may be exposed to anonymous, shady people operating out of some foreign location.
However, my sense of security was shaken a bit last week when our building in Spring Valley was burglarized overnight Monday last week. Our business is connected to two others and someone entered one building - we're not sure how - and stole cash from all three businesses and a little merchandise from the remnants of our cell phone business.
Since we didn't know how the perpetrators got in, we had the locks changed. It had been likely more than a decade - with changes in ownership of the buildings and changes in personnel - that the same locks have been used for all three buildings.
The loss was disappointing, but not too unsettling since there was still a lot of mystery about how it happened.
But then Friday night, there was an attempted break-in to the middle building. A metal strip on the back door had been pried out and there were some deep gashes in the metal area around the lock.
The people who attempted to break in were very brave, very dumb or very high - or maybe all three. The door is right at the bottom of the stairs from an apartment above. It is also in the line of sight of the police station, which isn't real obvious, but known to most people. Also, the lock is just below a sticker that says Custom Alarm on it from when the service was used for the jewelry store that used to be here.
It isn't obvious from the outside, but the back door is nearly impenetrable, so I wasn't worried about them getting in that way. Still, the extent these people went to was more unsettling than the actual break-in, partly because it was the second time in five days, but also for other reasons.
What's next? Will they break a window to get in or cause extensive damage? I joked after the break-in that it could have been much worse because our electronic components we use to manage our newspaper are more valuable than what they took.
Why us? It seemed strange why a newspaper, a second-hand store and a beauty salon would be the target. However, I later learned that another downtown business had an alarm go off Friday night and yet another was broken into.
Who did it? If my car were broken into in a strange place I would be angry, but pass it off on some anonymous derelict. However, in a small town, there will always be that question if it was someone from outside or if it is someone who I've passed on the street or even a person that has come into our business.
Why now? I've owned my business for 25 years and operate businesses in six towns. Although I've had some very minor, and non-threatening, incidents over the years in a couple locations that were quickly cleared up by law enforcement, I've never had middle-of-the-night break-ins or attempted break-ins. Two times in a week in the same location makes me wonder if it is a trend.
One store owner talked about putting security cameras around her business. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. It wasn't that long ago that I never bothered to lock the doors of my house or car, so any action would be a big change.
For now, I approach my business cautiously and often check on it. I've taken steps to reduce some of the exposure if a break-in did happen and I've worked with law enforcement to help catch whoever it is that is doing this.
If it really does become a trend, it's something we'll dig into and report on so people will be aware. If it just a fluke occurrence - a once in a three decade crime - it's still good to remember that despite our relatively safe environment, anything can happen to us.
Just as we need to be prepared for the rare, unexpected occurrence, such as a tornado or flood, from Mother Nature, we also need to be prepared for the rare, unexpected actions of our fellow citizens, some whom can upend our lives with impulsive, or perhaps calculating, acts. The damage caused by human beings can be more to our psyche than our possessions.