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Time to stop enabling criminals
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It was, as they say, a defining moment.

A caller 18 years ago to the Bulletin was indignant that the Manteca Police were announcing to the entire world that his house was vulnerable to criminals.

What was drawing his wrath was a program called “If I Were a Burglar.”

The transgression Manteca Police had committed was leaving behind a notice on the inside of his garage door that he was inviting theft by leaving his garage door wide open and his property inside visible to the street. The Manteca Police Explorers under the direction of crime prevention officer Rex Osborn had noticed his garage door wide open during a neighborhood sweep.

They had knocked on his door but he wasn’t home. So they left a pre-printed form noting how vulnerable he was making himself to becoming a crime victim.

The caller was ticked because the police had come onto his property uninvited and that by leaving the paper hanger that it was telling people he wasn’t at home.

Of course, the irony of his complaint was lost on him. Anyone - meth users desperate for money, garden variety thieves, and even teens doing pranks - could have walked into his garage and taken what they wanted. It was an open invitation.

Police will tell you that is exactly how a lot of theft occurs. But it is also a great way to case a home by letting those passing by get a look at not just valuables in the garage but a tentative layout of the home as to where the garage door into the home can be accessed.

Manteca Police no longer have the time to do the “If I Were a Burglar” program any more.

It’s been history for a long time just like the drill where officers on patrol at 2 a.m. see a garage door open and stopping to knock on the door to alert the homeowner that they left the garage door up. Officers are too busy running from one call to another to do much routine patrol let alone knock on doors of homes they see with garage doors up at 2 a.m.

There isn’t a single cop who has been on the force for awhile who won’t tell you that things like organized Neighborhood Watch groups work.

They also will tell you if people just used common sense a lot of the smaller crimes committed against them would go away.

We all do bozo things that make us vulnerable. We leave garage doors open. We leave bicycles on the front lawn. We leave keys in the ignition of our cars when they are unattended or, even worse, leave the engine running.

We all have stories of calling the police about something and it taking forever for them to respond. Get over it. They have other calls that may be a higher priority. But you need to report problems. If not they can be addressed or used to build a case against things such as suspected drug houses.

Cops can’t seek a warrant or bust someone just because they have received information. They need to verify it or establish a pattern for probable cause to get a warrant.

We all need to step up to the plate. It’s obvious, after all, that the criminal element in this town will do more damage if they meet no resistance.

Get involved with protecting yourself, your family and your property.