About six months ago, I parked my car at White Rock Lake near the boathouse on W. Lawther. I was working on a story and I needed to catch up with one of the rowing instructors. I hopped out of my car, only my keys in hand, and ran around the corner of the boathouse; chatted with the rowers for no more than the anticipated couple minutes, got the info I needed and walked back to my car.

As I exited the parking lot, I reached over to grab my cell phone from my purse … but my purse was gone.

Hitting the breaks, I looked to the back seat. My canvas work bag stuffed full of notebooks, a voice recorder, my iPOD, digital camera, calendar, and more, was also gone. After a brief denial, anger, tears and various other stages of grief hit me on the way to the police substation to report the crime. If you paid attention to the intro here, you’ll notice I never mentioned locking my car when I hopped out. I didn’t. (I felt like a fool when I told the police officer that part, and he treated me like one.)

In the following months I followed police reports and read your e-mails and heard your calls. I saw this was happening to people every day. People smarter than I who actually locked their cars had their windows smashed and locks busted. Every time I read a report I got angry — I fantasized about catching one of the thieves and hurting them …

My angst has been eased by many members of this community who have been working — not just fantasizing — to make the lake safer for us. I know the police have put some effort into it by enhancing the bicycle patrol. Deputy Chief Jan Easterling talked to the Advocate about other measures taken at the Northeast division to prevent crimes and catch crooks. (Page 58, April 2008 Lake Highlands Advocate).

And last night on the news I caught a segment about efforts to increase Volunteer in Patrol participation near the lake. This morning I read a piece about the White Rock Conservancy, a recently organized Friends of the Lake-type foundation, raising money for the installation of security cameras and emergency call phones. I like that people are working from a bunch of different angles, together, and I really like that mainstream local media is reporting their efforts. I hope we keep talking about it — hopefully the bad guys (and/or girls) will catch wind that our lake is not the place to victimize people.

At least I’ve learned to lock my car.