October 12, 2006

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if we lived in isolated, rural America, where there was no fear of crime? Wait a second, I thought we did live in this dream world already. Well maybe we used to. But recent news has made many of us rethink this?

In the past week there has been not one, but two murders in rural northeast Missouri. The first occurred just to our west in Schuyler County where a 61-year-old man reportedly confessed to murdering his wife of more than 40 years on the coupleís Greentop farm.

The headlines had been filled with stories about the bizarre tale of the former Illinois farmer who recently relocated to Schuyler County after battling animal abuse charges at his former property. Those charges followed the family to Missouri and made his name known to northeast Missouri even before the latest shocker.

Then over the weekend the Missouri State Highway Patrol announced it was investigating a homicide in Knox City where the body of a 57-year-old man was discovered in his mobile home, the victim of a gunshot wound.

Fortunately for us here in Memphis we have avoided this terrible type of news.

Still it is sad to say that times are definitely changing. While we arenít afraid to walk the streets, nor do we avoid going out after dark, Iím saddened to say that I now lock my doors to my home, and have even started locking my truck doors.

We lock the doors when we are away and have even started turning the dead bolts closed when we go to bed at night. Itís not a lot of work for the added sense of security, but it still is a difficult transition for a man that has spent the majority of his life in this area and never had to carry a house key on my key chain.

Maybe I need to invest in one of those home security systems with the magical coded entry key pad. Itís costly but probably worth it for a guy who simply cannot remember his keys. Iím no night owl, but there are plenty of occasions where I get home late from a ball game or a meeting and I have to wake someone up to let me in the house. So I end up with some cranky family member mad at me, all because we now have to lock our doors to feel safe and to secure our property.

Apparently there was a recent rash of stealing from vehicles with the thief or thieves taking stereo equipment, money and other valuables from parked cars and trucks that are left unlocked.

I guess Iím just lazy, but I cannot tell you how mad it makes me that I have to take my keys out of the ignition and lock my doors at night. Like I said, Iím too lazy to carry things in and out to my truck and ultimately have to hire a moving company once a week to clear out enough room for me to find a seat to drive to work. Not that any of this stuff is worth anything to anyone else, but it sure would inconvenience me if some thief made off with my belongings that I need for work and play.

It hit a boiling point early Monday morning when my fire pager went off and woke me from a deep sleep. I quickly dressed and ran down the steps out to my truck to respond to the emergency. I nearly broke my nose on the truck door, as I was already in the motion of entering the vehicle before my brain registered the fact that the door was not opening because it was locked. I cursed a number of times as I scrambled back inside and upstairs, waking my wife as I rummaged through my dresser top mess (itís about as bad as the inside of my truck) until I found my keys.

Back down the steps and outside with a few more choice words for those who are now making me lock my truck doors. I hope the spare change they are stealing out of cup holders is worth the several minutes they delayed an emergency worker from responding to a fire.

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