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Crime and safety citizenry

Streetlights can contribute to safe neighborhoods
Streetlights can contribute to safe neighborhoods
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Reports of shootings—guns and heroin, muggings, burglaries and street violence hit Madison area papers and airwaves daily. It’s likely that many more of these crimes go unreported to the public and to the police. Is crime in Madison worse than what read in the papers?

Several months ago, two adjacent residences in our neighborhood were burglarized simultaneously during the day. Stolen items included a handgun, computers and entertainment electronics. I learned of the crime two months after it took place from the owner of that rental property. The crimes were not publicized, and it didn’t sound like there was any investigation by the police.

Strangers loading stereos and other valuables into cars from two residences would be memorable to most residents. However, the police did not interview neighbors who may have witnessed strangers loading the loot into their vehicles. Are Madison police so overwhelmed fighting crime that they don’t have time to investigate burglaries?

The broken windows theory claim that minor incidences of crime such as vandalism kindle more frequent vandalism and mortal crimes such as muggings and shootings. Is the Madison’s police and citizenry tolerance to the small stuff an invitation to more serious and more frequent crime? Are criminals attracted to the Madison Area knowing they can burglarize a residence with impunity because there will be little or no investigation that track them down or that citizenry that witness crimes will fail to report crimes.

What are you doing to help prevent crime in your neighborhood? Do you confront strangers? Do you note and report suspicious activities to the Madison Police. Do the police respond?

I recall two incidences of people casing next-door residences. One time a stranger with a little boy was checking out patio doors to the building. When I asked if I could help him and who was he looking for, he gave me a fictitious name, hustled with the small boy to his car and drove off. .

Recently a strange man stood in the terrace talking on a cell phone next to his standing vehicle outside of the apartment building that was burglarized earlier this year. I conspicuously shadowed him for a few moments with my dog. I went around the back of the building and a strange car, never seen before and never seen again, driven by a woman with two children sped out. The man followed right behind her in his vehicle.

Did I foil another burglary or were these law-abiding strangers coincidentally in the neighborhood. It’s not uncommon for crooks to use children as a diversion during a crime. Taking notice of what is happening in your neighborhood and sending the message to strangers that you are watching can help deter criminals.

This week I noticed that there were a few streetlights out on one of our neighborhood streets. It is commonly accepted that street lighting results in safer neighborhoods.

Why are so many lights out in neighborhoods? Are neighborhood residents waiting for the pretend streetlight patrol or for the cops to report the malfunctioning streetlights—flickering, cycling on-and-off, or completely out?

Concerned and observant citizens can report streetlight problems easily by telephone or online to the Madison Gas and Electric Company.

A neighborhood watch program can be a formal program or it can be common sense citizens concerned about crime and safety. Keep informed as to what crimes are being reported in your neighborhood by subscribing to the City of Madison Police District Newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletters to stay informed at Be attentive to what is going on in your neighborhood and report suspicious activity. Want a real eye opener? Apply for a police patrol ride along.

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