In the early morning hours of Thursday, March 6, in the close-knit, rural resort lake community of Shawnee Hills in Jamestown, Ohio, the unheard-of happened – a home invasion. According to reports, four adult males and one juvenile broke into an occupied home, stealing electronics and video games adding up to less than $500.
All five were arrested in Xenia later the same day. The four adult suspects were charged with one count of aggravated burglary, which is a first-degree felony. At the time of this publication, there was no information available on the status of the juvenile.
Incidents like this happen all over the country, nearly every minute of each day. Burglary and home invasion are more common in the inner city regions, but they can occur anywhere. As urban development spreads into suburban and rural communities, the likelihood of crime increases, probably more because of a rise in concentrated population than most other factors. Suburban and clustered rural developments tend to be inhabited by people with more money and, thus, become an attractive target for various kinds of crime from robbery to drug trafficking.
Many people still believe this kind of thing does not happen in sleepy, country communities. It does, it’s just not as common and often it’s an inside job. That is, the person who commits the crime has some connection with the residents of the home so they are privy to the money or property situation.
The false sense of safety offered by country life encourages people to leave windows open, entrances unlocked and garage doors up, essentially painting a big sign on the house saying, “Come on in and take our stuff.” Robbery, burglary or home invasion, armed or otherwise, can happen anywhere – to anyone. In fact, people might be surprised at the statistics related to who is committing crime and against whom.
For example, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, overall, crime is disproportionately committed by males. Although it tends to have a greater affect on minorities (both as victims and offenders), most crimes are committed by whites against whites.
The Center’s website states that, “Certain populations are disproportionately affected by crime, not necessarily because of the sheer numbers of victims but as a result of crime’s greater impact on these.”
It goes on to point out that young people, for example, aged 16-24, are the population group most victimized by crime and this is also the age group that commits the most crime. Not surprising in the case of the Shawnee Hills incident, since all of the men involved incident were 19 years old and younger.
Additionally, as one might expect, there are some types of crimes such as stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault that are predominantly committed by males against females. It also seems, as was the case in Jamestown, many home invasions and robberies are committed by someone acquainted with one of the residents. People can help minimize the potential for these kinds of incidents, however, with a few basic precautions.
Always keep doors and windows locked, particularly at night or when leaving the house. Close and lock garage doors and don’t hide spare keys in obvious places. Don’t flaunt expensive possessions, guns, tools or electronics. These are the top of the list for burglary targets, and it only takes a word from a friend to someone you don’t know to set the wheels in motion to have your home robbed.
Wait until you return home to post vacation photos and other information on social media. Broadcasting to the world that the whole household is out of town begs for an unwanted visitor.
Be sure to include the whole family on crime prevention education. Parents need to teach kids everything possible to help keep them safe in and out of the home. Make it a point to get to know the people that kids bring into the house, particularly high-school agers, including names, addresses and parent contact information. If they are unwilling to provide that information, then they don’t get to be there, plain and simple.
Some simple prevention and common sense can keep you from becoming the next statistic.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to the WDTN-TV2 program, “Living Dayton.”