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Protect Each Other

Editorial for May 21, 2009

Vandalism high up on Burdoin Mountain. Daytime burglaries in Underwood. Businesses broken into downtown. Graffiti spray-painted here and there.

These are some of the crimes reported in our community in recent weeks.

Despite the arrests of suspects in many of these cases, the problems continue.

It's especially disheartening to see very isolated rural areas having problems. Last week's vandalism to a truck on Atwood Road, high above the Syncline Ridge area, is a bit of a wakeup call. A pickup truck parked on the owner's property, in the midst of tremendous scenic vistas, had all its glass smashed out. Front windshield, side windows, camper window, headlights, taillights, even the mirrors -- a very deliberate, mean-spirited assault. That area is so far off the beaten track that residents, rightly so, are surprised when something like this happens.

So what can citizens do to protect themselves?

Law enforcement officials say there is no substitute for awareness. And they believe some of the best things to do are pretty basic: Be alert. Lock your car and your house. Watch out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood.

Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Bruce Brending advises that one big deterrent to criminal activity is simply knowing your neighbors. This approach, for example, could prove especially effective in the Underwood burglary cases, which have been happening in the daylight hours.

"Talk to your neighbors and watch out for each other," Brending advised. "Report suspicious activity, or if there is a strange vehicle in a neighbor's driveway or down the street when they are not home."

Brending is absolutely right. Just being cautious and aware can make a big difference. Citizen tips are one of the best avenues police officials have to prevent and/or solve crimes, so if in doubt, don't hesitate to call your local law enforcement agency. Officers would much rather deal with a false alarm than have to investigate a crime that could have been prevented.

Consider it good advice in an unpredictable world.

JB

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