By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
Long years ago, a new pastor down by Lake Texoma was making the rounds among his country church members to “get acquainted.”
He called upon two sisters, 70-something year-old widows who still lived on the family farm. Announced by the barking hound, he parked in the driveway, approached the house, and was met at the door by the younger sister. She was carrying a shotgun.
The pastor introduced himself. The older sister stepped out and they had an amiable few minutes’ visit on the porch. The shotgun was explained with, “Preacher, you just can’t be too careful, nowadays.”
These senior ladies were doing home security the old-fashioned way. Barking dogs were burglar alarms; Messrs Remington, Smith & Wesson provided deterrents as well as protection (the old ladies had a local reputation as “pretty good shots”); and they had neighbors who “checked up” on them.
These sensible “home security” precautions are still popular today in rural areas. I use them myself.
Once, though, I found it necessary to call 911 regarding a vehicle parked curiously close to our front gate that none of the neighbors knew anything about. Within a few minutes, a sheriff’s deputy came out, we shook hands, I expressed my concerns about the strange vehicle to the property proximity—but we were not too worried.
It was a late model SUV. “People who drive those generally do not burglarize houses,” the officer said. “If it was stolen, it could have been dumped. Have you looked around?”
I had. Nothing was out of the ordinary, and I said, “Officer, in the house is a 70-pound black lab and a 108-pound pit bull. Out back with the horses is another pit bull and a German shepherd. They were not my idea for family pets, but my daughters volunteered at an animal shelter for a while. If anybody was fool enough to go out back or inside, we would need the coroner, not the police.”
I could not help but like the officer. He was a good man, he was friendly, he understood my concerns, and he liked big, “no-nonsense” dogs. I confessed, I had a 12-pound Yorkie, too, but he did not hold it against me. And the late-model SUV? Turned out it belonged to a neighbor’s cleaning lady. This was a shock, as we did not think anybody could afford cleaning staff that drove such nice vehicles. We both wondered what they paid per hour, considering changing jobs.
But there are other parts to this story. The officer commented on the ADT security company’s 20-year-old sticker on the front door. I told him, it was left by the previous homeowners, we do not subscribe to any protection services. He commented on the “Beware of Dog” signs, and I said those were also left by the two decades previous owners.
“Burglars can sometimes get around security alarms, especially out in these small areas,” the deputy said. “The only way you can get around a guard dog is to shoot it. Most criminals don’t want it to be that complicated. Even if you don’t have a dog, a Beware of Dog sign can be a deterrent.”
I agreed, and mentioned several instances when the sign proved effective. Dozens of people on innocent missions have respected the warning, over the years. I knew about them, of course, when they phoned from the fence or honked their horns; but who knows how many non-innocents regarded the warning?
Those miscreants certainly would have thought, “Well, we was going to rob your garage, but we saw that dang ‘dog’ sign.” They went to easier pickings.
It took about 15 minutes for everything to be resolved. The officer and I shook hands, and he left to face who knows what sorts of dangers. He reminded me of the law officers I knew when I was a kid—good, decent, brave people, and friends.
After all, our parents did instill important values in my sister and me. A love for God, family and country was a chief part of our upbringing. The “Ten Commandments” variety of virtues were taken seriously.
Another rule was, respect people, respect their property. My sister got the “work ethic” our parents endorsed, and prospered; I didn’t, and became a writer.
Otherwise, I can vouch for these old-fashioned principles. If we observe them, and teach our children to observe them, it will do the most good for home security.
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