Editor’s note: This article was written by a longtime Bethlehem resident who was the victim of an unsolved crime. This person’s identity is not being released to avoid further victimization.
Summertime and the living is easy. Go for a morning jog, walk the dog, or take a quick bike ride. Why bother securing the house, you’ll only be gone for a little while? When you return everything looks the same. Nothing appears out of place. In fact, it may be several hours before you realize what happened in your short absence.
Maybe, getting ready for bed that evening, you go to put something in your jewelry box. Everything is gone. Swept away along with some expensive pieces are the inexpensive but irreplaceable keepsakes, symbolic treasures meant to be passed down.
You are bewildered and then angry, so you call the police. They respond quickly and immediately set to work getting fingerprints while taking down information. The police are efficient and professional and also tactful as they suggest perhaps this was not a random act. Their kindness in taking time to explain the situation makes you feel guilty because you believe somehow you contributed to this crime.
And the truth is you did. This is a crime of opportunity. The perpetrator is likely someone who knows you and knows your home. The telltale signs are: nothing else in the house is disturbed; it happened when you were out during the day; there is no obvious sign of a break-in and as if on purpose, some jewelry is left behind.
Once the stolen loot is collected, disposal and pay-off have multiple options. This criminal may or may not choose to show up on the doorstep of local questionable pawn shops. They may decide to work with a more reputable jewelry store or ship the goods far away and wait for the check to come in the mail. The arrogance of this type of crook is that they rationalize their criminality by believing both, “it is only stuff” and “insurance will cover the loss.” Of course they are wrong on both counts, but without a conscience, it is easy to convince yourself.
My deepest respect and gratitude go out to our local law enforcement for their patience and understanding. The following tips are just plain common sense things we all should do to avoid becoming a victim of this crime. Of course, knowing what you should do and actually following through are two very different things.
Secure your house even if you are just going for a walk. If you are going to be away for a period of time, call the police at the non-emergency number and let them know.
Take photos of valuable possessions and keep valuables including important papers in less obvious places in your home.
Better yet, store important items in a safe deposit box or if you have a safe in the house, make sure it is locked and secured to the floor.