EDITORIAL: Lurking in the parking lot

by Sep 4, 2018OPINIONS




“It’s 10:00. Do you know where your children are?” In 1967 and running through the late 1980s, a media campaign asked this question of parents as high crime rates resulted in concern and community-wide curfews around the country. In the dark of night, bad people were doing bad things to good people, or anyone the bad people could find.

In 2018, bad people are no longer waiting for the cover of night to carry out their evil intentions. Violent crimes are just as likely to be committed in the daylight hours these days. Along with the rise in drug abuse, we are finding that there is a rise in burglary, domestic violence, and other crimes.

One source reports that the FBI calculates that 1 in 36 homes in America will be invaded by unwanted and malicious persons, and according to the Department of Justice, there are 1.03 million home invasions each year. The home invasion is one of the more frightening trends of modern society. The home used to be considered a person’s castle, the one place a family could let their guard down and relax. The sanctity of the home was respected by most, and it was rare that even the government violated the boundaries of the home.

One Facebook user on the Boundary shared her frustration concerning a drug abuser who, allegedly, made multiple attempts to break into her home to steal things, presumably to sell to support a habit. She recounts that one time this young abuser came to her home, broke a window out and when confronted by the homeowner who was in the house at the time of the attempt, the invader yelled at the homeowner for not letting her in. Apparently, under the influence of some substance, the invader felt that the homeowner was wrong for not letting her in to take what she pleased. This incident is on the tame side of what can and does happen during a home invasion.

In March, WLOS television reported an invasion in Littleton. Officials in North Carolina say two men have been arrested after a Sunday school teacher was killed and her pastor husband severely injured in a home invasion robbery that ended with a house fire. Warren County District Attorney Mike Waters told reporters Wednesday that Kevin Munn and Lester Kearney are charged with first-degree murder. Sheriff Johnny Williams said the couple arrived at their North Carolina home last Friday and found the robbers inside. Williams said the suspects made Nancy Alford withdraw $1,000 from a bank before forcing her and her husband, John Alford, into the home and setting it on fire. Williams says John Alford escaped but couldn’t rescue his wife.

In August 2017, a home invasion in Charlotte had tragic results. WSOC television reported, “Detectives said armed suspects broke into the family’s home on Outer Bridge Lane, off Providence Road, last August and shot Josh, 25, before brutally beating his 70-year-old father. Police don’t know why the robbery turned violent, because they said both men cooperated and did not put up a fight.

Also on local Facebook profiles are stories of abduction, some for human trafficking. Criminals will sell anything to satisfy their particular lusts and greed, including selling others into slavery. As late as last week, a person posted a story that should make any parent or grandparent cringe. At a local restaurant in Sylva, a young lady detailed an alleged attempt to take her infant from her. She and a friend had preceded her husband out of the restaurant when two men in the parking lot followed her and her friend out. One man went to a vehicle in the parking lot while the other approached the young mother in the parking lot, striking up a conversation, complimenting her on her baby, and finally asking to “hold the baby”. When she refused, the man made two more attempts to get the child in his hands. At that point, the lady’s husband came out of the restaurant, and when the man saw him, he ran to the car in which the second man waited, and both disappeared down the road.

It is almost a weekly occurrence for the “Amber Alert” system to be activated with information, asking the public to help track down a missing person.

In Cherokee, posts are piling up on social media about suspect behavior of men hanging out in public shopping areas in town. Allegedly, the men will approach young women and children and start talking to them. Since hanging out and having a conversation is not a crime, it is difficult for anyone, including law enforcement, to curb this behavior until it turns into an abduction attempt.

No age group is safe from the possibility of abduction. Abductors will, in addition to selling people into slavery, will satisfy their need for money or sex through kidnapping. In the summer of 2017, Tommy Bryson was abducted in Mills River. “The apparent kidnapping and possible murder of a man with centuries-old ties to this part of northern Henderson County have rattled residents inhabiting its normally quiet coves and rural corners. The disappearance and death of Tommy Bryson, 68, during the manhunt for an armed fugitive shocked and dismayed residents in and around the town of Mills River. Some, whose families have lived in the area for generations, said it shook their sense of security, a feeling their community was immune to the ills of more crime-prone places.” (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Law enforcement is doing what it can to limit the opportunity. Patrols and cameras systems have limits to their effectiveness in preventing these crimes. We have to be more alert and educated when it comes to the security and safety of ourselves and our loved ones. Evil no longer waits for 10 pm. It is bold enough to act in broad daylight. At a government website, the statistics indicate that violent crime starts rising at 6 am in the morning and increases on an hourly basis until peaking at 10 pm. Most juvenile violent crime occurs between 3 – 4pm.

Be aware of this when loved ones are out and about. Make sure family members have good communication tools and places for checking in with you. Train your family members to watch for and report unusual behavior. Children and adults alike are less attentive because of their obsessions with mobile phones. Create and rehearse action plans at home in case of a home invasion. Decide what level of personal security you are willing to implement and protect your family. In our neck of the woods, we used to talk about how awful it was that this was happening in the cities and how grateful we were that we lived where we could live where no locks on doors and cars were necessary. Those days are over, and now we need to watch our homes and check to see what may be lurking in the parking lot.