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Don't be a crime victim; practice prevention

St. Petersburg

Some mistakes in Mr. Troxler's Neighborhood

Howard Troxler recently wrote a column about his experience as the victim of a home burglary, an event that caused him to be "more mindful" about crime in his neighborhood.

Such enlightenment is good, but we don't have to become a victim to become more aware of crime and practice prevention.

So, with apologies to Mr. Troxler, I conducted a postmortem of the case to see what we can learn from his experience.

The burglary began at midnight when someone rang the doorbell. Our victim acknowledged that was unusual, but he assumed a neighbor might need help with a problem.

Call that "strike one" for assuming the best.

The young stranger standing outside the door didn't look like a criminal, so our victim cautiously opened the door.

"Strike two" for sizing up the stranger as "safe" based upon his appearance and manner.

The young man said he was lost. A plausible story. Our once-wary victim dropped his guard to provide directions.

Unfortunately, that was just enough time for the crook's partner to slip into the back porch and steal a laptop.

"Strike three" — Troxler was a victim.

We call this a diversion burglary. These criminals use a convincing story to overcome distrust and divert attention.

So whenever a stranger with a story approaches you, either at your home or in public, respond with a heightened sense of alarm — something, say, like the robot from the old TV series, Lost in Space, which, at the first sign of trouble, wildly swings its arms, calling out, "Danger, Will Robinson!"

Bill Proffitt, St. Petersburg Police spokesman

Don't be a crime victim; practice prevention 05/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:58pm]
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