Fayetteville Police are receiving an increasing number of looting reports in the wake of the recent tornadoes in the area. This past Wednesday a resident of the 3500 block of Worley Street reportedly returned to his home at 9:30 a.m. to find a subject inside (NBC17.com, April 20, 2011). The homeowner grabbed a gun and fired at the suspect who fled on foot. The suspect was described only as being 6 feet tall, wearing a striped shirt and black shorts. It is not known if the suspect was shot, but the local hospitals should be alerted for anyone seeking treatment for that type injury.
This crime happened in broad daylight. Can you imagine what’s going on at night? The police are scaling back on officer assignments to the neighborhoods affected by the tornadoes. They must as they have an entire city to police and they’ve been working around the clock to promote safety and security for those areas most affected. The curfew which was established following the storm will end this week, too. That will possibly further encourage more looting.
It is disheartening to have folks capitalizing on the misfortunes of others. Looters demonstrate a serious lack of sympathy and concern for fellow man. To steal is legally and morally wrong. Shame on the looters (and others) who are seeking personal gain during others’ time of need.
While understanding and empathizing with the homeowner’s feelings of being violated and brazenly victimized, better judgment must be used. Although it is very tempting, let’s not arm ourselves with guns and use the shoot first mentality to prevent a theft. To take this sort of action merely lowers the victim to the criminal’s standards and it’s not worth it, no matter how angry it makes the homeowner. Property can be replaced and lives cannot. And, keep in mind that a homeowner can be sued legally in a court of law for unlawful death of the suspect under certain circumstances, such as the lack of the victim to articulate (prove) fear of physical harm or even if the suspect had the victim’s property in his/her possession, etc.
A better solution is for neighborhood residents to ban together and watch out for each other. They should arm themselves with walkie-talkies, cell phones, whistles, and flashlights and patrol their own neighborhoods. Residents should call the police if any suspicious activity or persons are observed. This is what is referred to as Community Policing where everyone gets involved. In addition, neighborhood residents should establish patrols, working in shifts which could provide observation around the clock.
But, most importantly is that neighborhood residents should call the police to handle matters for which they are paid. Now, if ever, is one of the best times to establish neighborhood watch programs, if not already done. This fosters neighborhood safety and assists in recovery and rebuilding efforts, not to mention establishing lasting friendships.
In the meantime, let’s refrain from shooting at the looters in an effort to discourage the crime. By banning together and watching out for one another those affected can de-escalate such situations before they occur.