Cyndi's Two Cents
Put out the fire of rural crime
January 15, 2020 By Cyndi Young Filed Under: AgriNews Column, Two Cents
I was in a session taking notes about digital farming at a conference
in Monheim am Rhein, Germany a couple of years ago when I received a text from
my mom. Although well into the workday
on the other side of the pond, I knew it was 2am in the heartland of America. I was overwhelmed with a sense of dread when
I opened the text and saw a picture of a structure fire.
My mom had taken the picture of my dad watching the house
where he had grown up burn to the ground.
It was heartbreaking.
The little farmhouse was a mile down the road from my
parents’ home. No one was living there,
but a few family heirlooms, tools, and other items were inside and lost in the
fire. Someone driving along the highway early in the morning had seen the blaze
and called the local volunteer fire department.
The house was fully engulfed by the time the crew arrived so
there wasn’t much they could do but keep the fire from spreading. There was evidence that the house had been
broken into and the firemen and the insurance investigator (a former fire marshal)
agreed the fire had been deliberately set but the structure was completely
destroyed so it was hard to prove. And
proving it was arson would only mean another case that local law enforcement
would not have time or manpower to investigate to ensure the responsible party
is held accountable.
Someone had tried unsuccessfully to set fire to a rural
church in the county that same night, but as is the case in many rural
counties, the sheriffs’ office is extremely understaffed. Small rural communities experience many of
the same problems as bigger towns and cities.
Rural areas are not immune to substance abuse, arson, homelessness and
violent crimes. However, smaller tax bases mean fewer dollars for personnel,
technology, training, tools and equipment.
There is often nothing local law enforcement can do except
put out the fire and move on, so to speak. Although I have a pretty good idea
who set this fire and tried to set another, proving it wouldn’t change that
what is left of the house where my daddy was raised and where I spent so many
hours with family and with my grandparents is nothing but charred ruins. The
arsonist(s) did not and could never burn the memories of Grandma’s open arms at
the back door with her welcoming words, “Come here honey and give me some
sugar.” I have a heart full of memories
and that is enough.
I am grateful that no life was lost in the fire and none of
the volunteer firemen who came in the wee hours of a September morning to fight
the blaze were injured.
Criminal activity is on the rise in many rural areas. A recent string of burglaries in my home
county saw burglars so bold they robbed one house while people were sleeping in
their living room recliners.
Report suspicious activity.
Let your neighbors know when you see an unfamiliar vehicle or something
that doesn’t “feel” right. Lock your
house. We’re going to have to work
together “out in the county” to protect ourselves and curtail this rise in
rural criminal activity.
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