Nearly 25 years ago, I left my then-Oak Cliff home at the usual time in the morning. But rather than head straight for work, I went to the cleaners and, in a total deviation from my normal pattern, decided to go back home and drop off the laundered clothes instead of heading on to the office. As I pulled into my driveway, a strange vehicle pulled out a top speed. I thought that was odd. And then I looked on the porch and saw my TV and stereo piled neatly in front of the kicked-in door. The would-be burglars had been foiled by a neighbor across the street who was smart enough to recognize that none of my friends seemed like the type to invite themselves into the house by shattering the door jam. Breathing heavily despite the neighbor’s heroic action, I could barely dial the number for the monitored alarm service that practically beat the cops out to the house. I haven’t been without a home security alarm since (still had another break-in several years later, though).
I thought about this the other day while reading a DMN story outlining the 4.6% increase in home burglaries, compared with the same period a year ago. Naturally, the reporter was able to find more than a few people concerned about the trend, and who wouldn’t be: More burglaries, rather than less, isn’t the way things are supposed to go. The police also pointed out that the odds have been a little better for criminals in terms of getting busted, too: Solved residential burglaries fell to 6.7% of overall cases, as opposed to about 10% from the year before. So plenty of bad news to go around, and no real answers for what’s going on.
I guess what it shows is that things haven’t changed much in 25 years. The police haven’t eradicated residential burglaries, nor will they. And then, like now, crime remains top-of-the-mind for city residents. From what I can tell, Chief Kunkle and his assistant chiefs are the most public-relations-minded officers we’ve had, and they’re doing a better job of letting us know what’s going on and what they need to keep fighting crime (more officers, better equipment). There has been a lot of lip service to that in the past, but it’s time to see if 300 officers can be hired in one year and what would happen if we had state-of-the-art crime statistic gathering capability. Let’s give them what they want in the budget, give them a two-year window to make a difference, and then re-evaluate.