Perception and reality often don't match, especially when it comes to crime.
It's been the case for many years, but Capt. Keith Warner of the Harford County Sheriff's Office reiterated it last week when he addressed a crowd gathered for the regular meeting of the Jarrettsville/Norrisville Community Council: living in a rural area doesn't mean living away from crime.
Sure, people talk about the good old days when no one had to lock doors on houses or cars. Maybe things were better in that regard back during some historic golden age known as the Good Old Days. Or maybe those folks just got lucky. Or maybe they locked their doors, but didn't feel like they had to.
What's for sure now, though, is that these days, locking cars, doors and windows is important throughout Harford County.
Warner reiterated a point that has been made numerous times in the past: Criminals, especially burglars, are apt to target homes in northern Harford County, especially during the day.
Though Warner didn't elaborate last week, the problem has been expounded upon by people in the local law enforcement community in years past. Sometimes, the burglars are the sons and daughters of people living in the area. Sometimes, they are people from farther away who target the area because they know a lot of people are at work during the day and there's no one to notice if something is a bit out of place.
Regardless, the message should be clear to all, and it's the message Warner was delivering last week to Northern Harford: Everyone should make an effort to make sure their homes are secure and avoid becoming a victim.
A theme that comes up from time to time in the law enforcement community is that if police end up being effective to a high degree in their jobs, they eliminate their jobs. That's because crime prevention is regarded as a key part of law enforcement, and the more crimes that get prevented, the less there is for police to investigate.
To this end, Warner encouraged people to make appointments with the sheriff's office to get home security surveys done, which assess properties for their susceptibility to being targeted by burglars.
It is incumbent on the homeowner after such a survey to take appropriate action, but still the advice, though free, promises to be worth a good deal more.
Despite this, unfortunately, local police are hardly in a position where they'll be working themselves out of jobs by doing home security surveys. Though the latest rash of burglaries in northern Harford County can probably be traced to a few operators, they aren't the first, and are unlikely to be the last, to target a particular area.
And Northern Harford is hardly alone in from time to time being plagued with burglars, thieves and other miscreants. Everyone who wants a level of protection from the criminal element would do well to take advantage of the security surveys offered by local law enforcement.
If nothing else, though, everyone should lock up, day or night.