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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Experential Learning

When I was the lieutenant on midnight shift, we were brainstorming methods of burglary prevention when one of the sergeants suggested that the only way our citizens will learn to close and lock their doors was if the police started taking things they leave in open view to teach them a lesson. Of course we would return the items when they were reported stolen. We all pondered that thought for about 3 seconds until we came to our senses and realized that it was a terrible idea. Great in theory maybe, but not in practice!

I once stole a bicycle from a garage. Well, I guess it doesn’t count as stealing because it was my son’s bike and I took it from my own garage to teach him a lesson about leaving the garage door wide open. I had warned him repeatedly that his bicycle was going to get stolen but after my warnings fell deafly upon his ears, I took matters into my own hands and committed the “burglary”. I held out for a week before I gave him his bike back. He subsequently complied with my plea to be less careless.

One of my colleagues was so frustrated with his wife leaving the doors to their home repeatedly unlocked that he decided to create some experiential learning to drive his point home. He left for work (or so she thought) but he was actually casing the house. He waited for her to leave for the grocery store and found that she had left the back door unlocked -- again. Unknown to his wife, He arranged for a co-worker to come over and hide in the house. When she arrived home and walked in, the friend jumped out and grabbed her. To be clear, I don’t condone this extremism and I can assure you that the husband slept on the couch for quite some time afterwards. However, she has not left the house unlocked since.

Sometimes a person has to feel the consequence of something before they understand the lesson. If only we were wise enough to heed the advice that others offer before we have to feel the discomfort. Hindsight always provides such clarity when we come to the realization that we should have listened and changed our behavior. We frequently don’t do that because we all carry an air of infallibility. Bad things only happen to other people. That is, until something bad happens to you. Sometimes the bad things are unpredictable and out of our control. But most of the time, we become victims because of our own carelessness.

We are currently dealing with a burglary problem in our city. While violent crime is the lowest it has been in decades, property crimes continue to be an ongoing battle that our officers are fighting. The frustrating part for police about the burglaries is that a majority of them are preventable. Criminals are looking to prey upon careless people to victimize. They don’t want to work very hard and so they look for an easy steal. Your open garage and car doors provide them with the perfect opportunity.

During our bi-weekly meetings where we address crime statistics, the common theme for most burglaries reveals unlocked doors. Our officers have tried issuing Crime Prevention Notices when we see an open garage door or valuables left in plain view in a vehicle. You may have even been awakened in the middle of the night by one of our midnight shift officers telling you that your garage or front door is open. We are trying to be vigilant for you but there is only so much the police can do to protect your property.

Since we cannot subject you to the aforementioned experiential learning for obvious reasons, I ask that you heed our advice so you don’t become a victim.

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