Break and enters are nothing new. Most break-ins are into sheds, barns, other outbuildings, and cottages. Items taken are usually tools, ATVs, and small gas-powered machines. Less common are residential break and enters, usually committed when homes are vacant. Break and enters into occupied homes are not that common, so the recent experience of Albert and Bonnie Johnson in Middleton might be considered an exception. A very scary exception.
Publication of a story in The Spectator last week concerning the break-in at the Johnson home created immediate community concern -- partly because the Johnsons are a well-known and respected couple who work tirelessly to help others. Partly because anyone reading the story could picture it happening to them -- at home late at night with thieves downstairs. Albert admitted that he sensed something was wrong. What if, alerted by the constantly running furnace, he had come downstairs while the intruders were still there? The story might have had a very different ending.
There is nothing quite as ugly as a home invasion gone wrong. The Johnsons were lucky.
Upon reflection, Albert believes that residential break and enters are directly related to three things: drugs, the state of mental health care, and the state of the economy. He's not wrong. Ask any cop, any social worker, any Crown attorney, any legal aid lawyer and chances are pretty good they'll agree with Johnson's assessment. An addiction is a mental health issue; drugs cost money; the economy isn't exactly vibrant and money is scarce. Of course this isn't categorical. Simple greed and laziness also contribute to crime.
If there is an upside to the Johnsons' experience, it's that a community seems to have come together to not only support the Johnsons and voice their dismay, but to perhaps seek solutions to a situation many believe has gotten out of hand -- especially considering the numerous break, enters, and thefts from Middleton businesses. People are saying enough is enough. Why should hard-working citizens become victims of crime in their own homes and shops?
But there is a certain onus on all to prevent such crimes by being vigilant, taking precautions, becoming involved in groups like Citizens on Patrol and Neighbourhood Watch. There is no statement more true than the policeman is your friend, but in the aforementioned state of the economy community policing is perhaps not getting as much fiscal attention as it should. If it's true that drugs and crime are related, just remember the police are busy not only trying to prevent the break-ins and catch the thieves, they're also busy trying to climb the drug ladder to put an end to the big suppliers. Residents can't complain about the 'petty' crimes without complaining about the 'big' criminals. It's all part and parcel.
It's true that municipalities can hardly afford the policing they have currently, based on current perceptions of what the public wants. But perhaps those perceptions are wrong. Maybe the public would be willing to dish out a bit more in taxes to pay for the resources needed to protect them adequately. And maybe if those resources did exist and were properly utilized, it would not only help reduce petty crime, but would also have an effect on addictions.
Of course there are those out there who don't believe drugs and crime are related. To those people of course go our apologies for making such a suggestion. We just hope your homes aren't the next to be targeted.