The importance of being a neighbor
It is time for a collective head’s up
By LeaAnne Klentzman
A couple of weeks ago the “Fort Bend Star” told readers about a trio that posed as utility company workers and lured an elderly man into his backyard under the auspices of looking at a meter. While the female “utility employee” was chatting with the elderly Richmond resident, her two “associates” were inside the man’s home pilfering his safe.
The case was given some media attention but was gone with the day’s news. Well, it has happened again, this time in Sugar Land.
At press time the “Fort Bend Star” is still waiting on specific information from the Sugar Land Police department. However, we can tell you that while the victim in the Sugar Land case was not physically injured, their life has been immeasurably changed, along with the lives of their family members.
As one hears of this kind of crime it is hard to imagine it happening to you. We convince ourselves we are smarter than that; we’re not. We have talked with our elderly parents and told them what to do and how to handle a stranger at the front door. We have talked with our children and told them not to answer the door.
Yet, all the talking in the world does not undo the lessons to be nice to one another, help thy neighbor and answer the door when the bell rings, heck even the dog runs to the door to see who has come to visit.
On the flip side of strangers at the door is the weekly visitors who have become a fixture at your home; the cleaning lady, the yard guy, the pool service, the plumber, the a/c repairman to name just a few. While you or your parents may know these folks, do they really? They have been given unfettered access to your home and all your worldly possessions, including access to any financial information that may be stacked up on a counter on laying on a bar.
As the families who recently lost safes in these nasty burglaries have learned, there is far more lost than the safe; which have been the size of a refrigerator; hidden in a secret place.
Along with the loss of the safe itself, these victims lose historical mementos that link past generations to tomorrow’s grandchildren. Also lost in cases such as these is heirloom jewelry which is far more valuable to the family than any amount of money. Documents are lost as well as cash. Many of the victims in these type cases are depression era folks who have lost faith in the banking system.
As victim’s families have learned, it is always important to develop a plan, especially with seniors. That being said, seniors are not all that interested in listening to their adult children, however, there are lessons to be learned, on both sides, while developing a working plan.
While no one advocates being afraid to open the door, it is critical that one is mindful who is on the other side when the doorbell rings or someone knocks. As we have learned it is also important to let whoever is at the door know that someone is at home. You never want a crook to think you are not home and come on in, especially if you are inside!
The best information available from law enforcement sources is to respond to a knock at the door, do not open it for a stranger, and inquire as to what they need. Provide what information you choose to impart through the closed door and if you are uncomfortable, call 911 and tell police that a stranger is asking you to leave your home.
Most importantly, the community is only as safe as the neighbors who look out for each other. If you know you have an elderly neighbor, keep an eye on them, if you know there are children at home without a parent, keep an eye out for them as well.
Fort Bend is a community of neighborhoods. Be neighborly and we will all be safer.
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