Please forgive me for asking you to think back to a darker time – to a time when major league baseball went on strike again, when the Democrats controlled congress and the governor’s office, and when my “crime” column was published in the August issue of the Advocate.

The column was entitled “Apparently, Crime Pays in Dallas” and described a purse-snatching I witnessed in front of the Drug Emporium at Kingsley and Audelia.

In case you don’t keep copies of my past columns in a leather-bound portfolio on your coffee table, allow me to refresh your memory.

Kid snatches purse in broad daylight in front of several passersby, jumps in getaway car being driven by his female accomplice, witnesses (including me) provide detailed description of car, license plate number, and the snatcher to the police, police immediately identify owner of getaway car and owner’s residence, and witnesses and victim return to their respective homes, believing they have done their duty, arrests will be made, and justice will prevail.

Instead, no arrests were made, the crime report was lost for weeks, and the incident was seemingly ignored until several calls were placed to the Northeast Station in search of the report. At that point, the case was assigned to a detective Downtown.

So, did we finally get our criminal? Was justice finally served? Can we now conduct our shopping in peace?

No. Why not? Well…

The detective interviewed the victim, who identified the purse-snatcher from photographs. The detective interviewed me, and I also identified this upstanding young man. He has both a real name and an alias – all at the ripe, old age of 16. He has no permanent home address. And, most importantly, he remains at large.

What about the getaway car and the car’s owner? Unfortunately, no one got a good-enough look at the female driver to make a positive identification. And, apparently, you can’t arrest a car.

So, what’s next? Nothing. The only hope for justice in this matter is the faint hope this youth will be unlucky enough to be caught when he commits his next crime. I’m not holding my breath.

Is this an isolated incident? Unfortunately, no. Some of you called in response to my August column to relate similar experiences from when you were also the victim of crime.

In the past few years, I have had a car stolen and my home burglarized. In each instance, the police filed a report but didn’t apprehend the criminal. They told me not to expect any news unless or until the stolen property turned up.

It is very easy, indeed, to become irritated with the police. But the problem is far more fundamental than that. We have become victims of our society. We have allowed crime and criminals to proliferate to the point that the problem is seemingly beyond our control.

In fact, the solution is within our control. As with most contemporary problems, the crime problem is borne of our failure as citizens to carry out our responsibility to our family and community, and our willingness to let government handle the problem.

Government ultimately cannot handle our responsibilities as individuals.

Whether through formal crime-watch organizations, informal neighborly actions, or intervening in the commission of a crime, we are the solution to the crime problem.

The message to veteran and would-be criminals must be that crime will not pay in Lake Highlands.

But we, the men and women of Lake Highlands, must deliver that message. If we rely on the government, we might as well go ahead and gather up all of our purses, cars, and significant possessions for our purse-snatcher and his buddies, and wish them a Merry Christmas.