The concept that a man's home is his castle has always been hypothetical, at best, for me. Of course, understandably you feel that when you are in your own home, you should be safe. Generally, this concept is not tested--for most of us.
There is a sense that property crime is on the rise--at least in our area. Our local news reports more and more on robbery, armed robbery, home invasions, and thefts. We live near a modest sized city, and there has been a rash of incidents where people have been accosted by a small group of young men, sometimes with handguns, who rob the victim. Occasionally, someone is caught and charged, but not always.
To tell the truth, while such small time crime troubles me, since we live in the suburbs I did not feel too personally threatened. We also frequently travel into this city--although there are folks in the area who simply NEVER go there--because generally we do feel safe.
But two nights ago, we had a small incident in our neighborhood that brought the city problem to the suburbs. A neighbor of our, three doors away from our house, heard a knock at the front door. The teenage son answered the door, and there stood a young man, clad in jacket and cap and something across his face, with a gun in hand. He demanded cash. The teen's mother took a small amount of cash from a wallet, gave it to the armed man who fled.
As it happened, I walked Ziva--for her last time out before bed walk--around 10:45. This incident had occurred not 30 minutes before--so police cars were still in front of our neighbor's house. When one of the neighbors happened to emerge, I just said--what happened? And quickly learned the news.
Not much to tell, really. But such an incident sends little shock waves through a neighborhood. The next morning, our immediate next door neighbor came over to see us. She is a policewoman in the city, and she wanted to make sure we had heard the news, and would be properly cautious. She then asked what we do to protect ourselves when we walk the dog. Well, the answer is--nothing.
So, she went back to her house and came back with a can of pepper spray, police size and strength, and gave it to us. First, she gave my husband a brief tutorial on how to use it. And--she admonished us to carry it when we walk the dog.
Now, I have never conducted my life with fear as my main companion. I do not say I am foolhardy--of course, I try to use whatever street smarts I might have. I stay aware of my surroundings, and don't take unnecessary risks. But, an armed robber coming into our neighborhood gives me pause.
Then I examine what my real reaction is. Of course, I won't just open the front door after dark without knowing who is outside. But, I plan to keep walking the dog. This is MY neighborhood--no petty robber will drive me inside, clutching a can of pepper spray.
I must not be the only one to feel this way. Two nights before the incident at our neighbor's house, a would-be armed robber (this time with a knife) tried to rob a local mini-mart. This mini-mart is about 10 blocks from our house. The clerk in the store did NOT turn over cash, but instead tried to grab the shirt of the would-be robber, who then fled the store. Deep down, I harbor a suspicion that it's the same robber--who graduated from knife to gun. Yes, such a person as the would-be robber is dangerous. But he doesn't own the neighborhood.
I don't plan to hole up in the house. I will keep on walking the dog. I will look out for my neighbors, as they look out for me. And, since our neighbor gave it to us, I will keep the can of pepper spray at the door