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AS I SEE IT

Posted 10/03/12 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Our homes are our castles.
Even though the landscape of McKenzie County may be undergoing rapid change as the result of the biggest oil boom that this part of North Dakota has ever experienced, those of us that have lived here for the better part of our lives still want to believe that we are safe and secure in our homes. While we may not know the people who live down the road or down the street from us, or who we see shopping in our local stores, or whose children are attending our schools, we assumed that they were all good people.
We greeted them like the neighbors we have always known and welcomed each and every one of the thousands of new residents who have come looking for work and new lives into our community. That is after all, western hospitality.
And for the most part, our new residents have been exceptional, hardworking people. They didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that they were going to uproot their families and move to North Dakota. But because of the poor economy and lack of jobs in the rest of the nation, western North Dakota has been a beacon for job seekers. People who came here looking for a chance to restart their lives and to find work.
But apparently not everyone coming to western North Dakota is looking for work. There are some who are coming here because they want to steal from those that are living here and trust that our western hospitality is going to be their ticket to steal whatever they can get away with before they are caught or decide to move on to greener pastures.
Such appears to be the case in the recent rash of break-ins and burglaries of rural residences in McKenzie County.
While local law enforcement is doing what it can to catch the individuals who seem to be preying on local residents, in my visits with some of the people who have been burglarized, there are some things that seem to be a constant.
First, it appears that the burglars are coming to the homes to determine when the residents are home. If the resident answers the door, they ask for directions or say they are looking for something. They also seem to be watching for when the residents go to work and come home. And they also appear to be looking for homes that afford them some degree of protection (be it a shelterbelt or other building) that shields them from the watchful eyes of neighbors or other people driving by.
Second, once they have identified their target, it appears that they enter the home from a back door or patio door that is once again out of sight. And then they begin a very slow and thorough combing of the home, looking for valuables, feeling secure in their knowledge that no one is returning home for several hours.
So how does someone go about protecting their home? Some people will decide that they need to purchase a security system, but there are also a lot of other ways to protect your home without going to that added expense. Perhaps the best way is to install dead bolt locks on all of your exterior doors, or if you have a sliding glass door, place a long heavy dowel in the track to prevent it from being opened. The list of home protection options is endless, and can include installing timers that will turn on your lights and television to give the appearance that someone is at home, to keeping a dog in the house.
But perhaps the best, and easiest way is to protect your home is to engage the eyes of your neighbors. Talk to your neighbors, watch over each other’s homes, and let them know when you are expecting visitors or workers.
While we may all long for the days of when we could leave our homes unlocked, those days are long gone. So the next best thing is to do what you have to do to protect your home and not make it an easy mark to those wishing to steal your property.