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Fears mislead us to focus on burglaries

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POSTED February 20, 2017 12:59 a.m.

If you have a home security system you are likely spending $360 a year or so to guard against financial loss.

Given reality you could spend nothing and simply be more attentive driving to lessen your chances much more effectively at reducing unexpected losses.

The 2016 Manteca crime statistics released by the police department clearly show you or a loved one being killed, maimed, or sustaining significant financial loss is astronomically greater when it comes to driving than being burglarized.

The numbers speak for themselves.

There were 869 burglaries last year in Manteca. Property loss from all theft — burglaries, shoplifting, fraud and identity theft came to $4,626,600. Although all losses are lumped together it doesn’t take too much effort to determine the relative losses and damages from residential burglaries.

There were 365 auto thefts in 2016. At a loss of $4,000 apiece — a number that is below the national average — it represents a loss of $1,460,000.

There were 514 auto burglaries in 2016. Projecting each translated into a loss of $300 on average — again below insurance industry averages — once vehicle damage and property losses are factored in it comes to $1,442,000.

That’s just over $3 million for the two categories.

That means all other burglaries — including residential — plus the 1,126 misdemeanor thefts from 2016 represented a loss of $1.6 million.

Now take the 990 accidents last year. In 2013, the average property loss for an auto accident in the United States was $3,231. That’s $3,198,690 for 990 accidents.

The insurance industry’s average claim for medical costs associated with an average auto accident claim in 2013 was $15,443. There were 210 injury accidents in 2016 where at least one person was injured. That comes to $3,243,030. Since most people are covered by insurance let’s not include medical care costs but note that a lot of people injured incur losses due to not being able to work.

So just using property losses alone Manteca residents lose at least twice as much in an auto accident — $1.7 million — than from all thefts, residential and commercial burglaries, and fraud such as identity theft.

Yet we fret over our home being burglarized and drive like we are in our own little world.

We spend an untold amount of money on residential surveillance equipment as well as alarms and monthly monitoring costs in a bid not to collectively lose a portion of the $1.6 million loss shared with ID theft, shoplifting, commercial burglary and items swiped from front yards. 

Yet all it takes is paying attention to driving to whittle away at almost $3.2 million in personal losses due to auto accidents. While that doesn’t include the dollar loss associated with medical costs or a loss of work, there were at least 210 people injured in auto accidents last year. Compare that to zero from residential burglaries. There were five people killed in auto accidents in Manteca during 2016. That compares to zilch from residential burglaries.

We let our fears whipped by slick TV commercials, social media and cable TV amplifying crime, as well as the gossip mill for want of a better description to dictate our demands not only on tax-funded services but how we spend our own money.

Even so there are more than a few people I can name who have security systems who think nothing of leaving their garage doors open — and unattended — for a long period of time. It is a good way to allow thieves to case your house.

Something valuable in your garage — or your house for that matter — that they have prior knowledge of is still a fairly low risk steal even with an alarm system. Police only respond to verified alarms for obvious reasons.

Yet when it comes to driving survey after survey — plus simple observations — show more and more of us regardless of our age are treating driving as a secondary priority when we are behind the wheel.

Cars don’t stop on a dime. Other drivers can make sudden and unexpected moves. There are things out there called pedestrians and bicyclists.

You may think you’re golden because you’ve got away with texting, glancing at reading material, doing your hair or reaching down to pick up an item on the floor and had nothing happen.

I can think of one young man who won’t be graduating from Manteca High this year because someone driving reached down to pick up their phone that had tumbled onto the car floor as they were driving. They killed the then freshmen and seriously injured three of his friends. The odds are the driver had done the same stunt before with no consequences. This time around there was consequences — one teen dead, three injured, and time behind bars.

And it’s not getting better. Inching along in stop and go traffic on Highway 101 in San Francisco Sunday, my granddaughter noticed the driver in the car next to us was on FaceTime as we were doing about 10 mph.

Twice she almost tapped the rear end of the car in front of her when traffic stopped.

I’m sure she figured she had it all under control just like the lady driving down East Highway 120 three years ago was golden when she reached down to pick up her cell phone.

She’d be singing a different tune if she hit the car in front of her damaging her shiny Honda Accord. But, hey, at least whoever she was on FaceTime with can see the expression on her face as she gets dinged $4,000 or more in losses.

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