Back in November, someone broke into our garage and stole a bunch of stuff. A large portion of my hand tools are gone, as is most of our camping equipment, an air mattress, and the bike that I’ve had for 15 years.
It’s not the first time we’ve had something stolen. In the 15 years we’ve lived in our house near downtown Lethbridge, we’ve had people steal our oldest child’s bike from our garage and clothes off our clotheslines; we’ve had people break into our vehicle (always because we left it unlocked); and we’ve had people try at least 3 times to break into our house.
It’s going to take a while to replace it all.
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It sucks having your stuff stolen. I experienced all sorts of emotions: violation, vulnerability, loss, anxiety, longing, despair, sadness.
But never anger.
You see, anger won‘t bring anything back. Anger won’t stop it from happening again or to somebody else.
Because people don’t steal stuff because the owners of that stuff aren’t angry enough. They steal stuff because they’re poor, and they either can’t afford to buy the stuff they steal, or they need the money they get from selling the stuff they steal.
And getting angry doesn’t make them less poor.
People told me I should report it. But why? What good will it do? Are the cops going to keep an eye out for my generic socket set? Give me a holler if they find the chrome ones with the size engraven on the side?
The cops claim that if they receive more reports of crime in an area, they’ll patrol more in that area. I never see them patrolling alleyways in my neighbourhood, where I anticipate most theft occurs. And I know there are lots of people in the neighbourhood who report thefts to cops.
And even if they did patrol more, so what? Cops patrolling more won’t stop people from being poor. And since Lethbridge has only 170 cops, who work in shifts and aren’t all patrolling at the same time, it’s impossible for them to be everywhere and prevent crime.
Cops respond to crime; they don’t prevent it.
Patrolling more in my neighbourhood, even if it does discourage crime, will just push crime into other neighbourhoods, causing their crime rates to increase. And when the cops end up having to patrol those neighbourhoods because they caused the crime rate to increase, that crime will return to our neighbourhood.
The problem isn’t anger, or lack of patrolling. The problem is poverty. The problem is our society perpetuates an ever-increasing divide between those who have the most and those who have the least.
And until we address that poverty, people are still going to have stuff stolen from their garages.
Hopefully the sleeping bag I haven’t used in nearly a decade kept someone warm this winter as they slept in the doorway of a downtown business until someone kicked them out in the morning.