Friday, November 3

I Think "Car Burglar" is an Official Career in Jacksonville

I'm not going to totally criticize our city's army of gainfully employed car burglars too much. I think there are other jobs that are nearly as dishonest, some of which are legal, like mortgage insurance sellers and internet cafe owners. It's just that I always assumed car burglars perhaps had other jobs, as well, and it was more of a part-time gig. (Unlike Cat Burglars, who target wealthy people and seem to do well in films.) However, I get the distinct impression that Car Burglar is  a full-time, third-shift job in Jax.

I know from doing my research that Jacksonville does not lead the nation in vehicle theft or property crime, but I think it probably leads the country in people walking around and opening car doors. I know, it's based partially on reports I've seen on the news and in my Nextdoor feed, but there are reasons for it, too. The fact that so many home owners use their garages as living or storage space means that there's an overabundance of targets. The fact that all the new homes have garages and driveways out front with no windows looking directly at the parking area. The fact that it's relatively pleasant to walk around at night. The fact that police have such a huge area to cover and that most planned neighborhoods aren't on a grid. And so on.

In my own neighborhood, it's pretty much common knowledge that this guy on a scooter (and often a friend) cruise around looking for stuff to steal. I've heard a lot about groups of young men crossing from one neighborhood into the next on foot, too. These kids know what they want, and it's difficult to track them down. Open a door, check the glove compartment, grab a gun or a wallet, and then gone. You can spend four hours after midnight and get maybe one gun, then sell it for $200 to $300. Five days a week, fifty weeks a year (two weeks of vacation), and you've got a $50,000 a year living. And since we don't charge income tax in Florida, that's a pretty sweet job.

I know the numbers don't actually work out that way, but all it takes is a go-getter attitude and a couple of successful nights out, and I'm sure the criminals see how crime could pay. I am hoping that we can figure out a way to make this career choice less of a draw, but it will probably take some measures that won't feel right to gun owners. Yes, we should have RFID chips or GPSs on guns, like the ones in/on pets. I know, it doesn't let you report the gun stolen and later shoot your wife, but it's just the right way to combat gun violence and stolen guns. If nothing else, the police could plant some guns in cars in the hot spots that don't fire but do have a tracking system. Maybe that's a good first step, after people actually locking their cars and taking their own guns into the house.

Until then, it's looking like there will continue to be a decent outlook for car burglary as a lucrative career in Jacksonville. We can't really expect police or even vigilant neighbors to see everything, and cameras seem to see the same thing: a young man in a hoody. And we really don't want to have to rush out to our cars with baseball bats when we hear a noise that could be someone stealing our guns.

As for me (in case you're wondering), I park one car out in the driveway (two I fit in the garage). The power locks stopped working recently (older car), but the alarm started working. I have no gun in the car. Or anything else of value. Therefore, I just hit the lock button on my key fob, which arms the alarm without locking the doors. Keep in mind that the windows on this European car would cost more to replace than anything ever in the vehicle, so I'll just take my chances with the alarm. It will actually be kind of funny.

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