THERE is a reason why all doors and windows should be locked at night or during the day when members of the family are out or resting. The idea of community life where doors can be opened at night is no longer applicable in these areas. Thieves wait when the lights turned off and the family fell asleep. They put glue on their stick, open unlocked windows, and seize whatever valuable they could reach.
They usually get cellular phones and tablets. One resident wrote on a piece of paper asking the thieves to come back and get the charger they left when they stole her phone and tablet. I could feel how frustrated the woman was. On the eve of Friday last week, they stole my phone I left in the house’s living room. The thief must have waited and when he/she felt everyone was sleeping, he/she checked the windows and found one was unlocked. It could not have lasted five minutes for him/her to steal my phone. I have many photos with my family there. The thief did not just stole the phone. It also took away pieces of my family’s memory which my two-year old daughter used to check from time to time.
La Trinidad is home to many boarding houses because of the nearby government university. Students who study in colleges and universities in Baguio City also reside in the town. Thieves knew that students are fond of gadgets and somehow these students are not too careful especially when they are inside their boarding houses. But thieves do not only target boarding houses anymore, they have now included residential houses where many boarding houses are located. This is because they can always roam around the place without being suspected as thieves.
Thieves knew that where there are boarding houses, people do not know one another. This avoids familiarity of faces like in a community. I live in a barangay located along kilometer 4 of La Trinidad. Boarders come and go so it is usual to see a strange face once in a while. When an unfamiliar person walks by our house, we would not speculate that the person is a thief or a boarder.
Some people have mastered thievery today. They disguise themselves as repairmen during the day to take a look at your house. They would go back on other days just to obtain additional information on the vicinity. They find out when people are out of the house. They observe when members of the family usually sleep and then they plan. And when the time to strike comes, it would only take a couple of minutes or even seconds for them to steal your gadget, wallet, or whatever there is thatthey can reach.
Thieves have an alternative plan. They know that stealing can either go right or go wrong. If their plan goes well, they only need to think how they will dispatch the stolen thing. They do not want to be caught so they always bring something to protect them. The thing that protects them is of course the thing that harms the house owner or any good citizen who tries to help. A friend staying in Ambiong, La Trinidad was at the comfort room when his wife shouted after seeing a stick held by an identified man from the opened window and snatched the phone. He ran after the thief but the thief had also master the technique of sprinting. There is a right time to fight thieves but oftentimes it is better to give in and let the police run after them.
Thieves who break in the house are more dangerous than those who prefer to use the stick. But when they are both cornered they act like animals which do whatever it takes for them not to get caught. Old-timer thieves usually have knives or even gun to protect them. They may not have the initial plan to hurt others but all break loose when they panic.
Sometimes it is even better not to witness the stealing. When you wake up for instance and see them inside, tendency is to shout or to panic. The thief’s immediate reaction is to silence you. When you are at the advantage such as there are more adult male in the house who can subdue the intruder, it may be better to sound the alarm. That however still depends on the situation because the thief might have a gun.
Awareness is the first step to avoid being a victim of these thieves. Right now, we know that thieves are among us especially in Baguio City and La Trinidad. These thieves do not spare any house anymore because they know that every house has valuables like cellular phones. I have yet to report what happened to my phone. Others are also encouraged to report these incidents. Family members and boarders should keep the doors and windows locked. It is difficult to be careful all the time but until these thieves are caught, citizens should practice being careful. Residents and boarders must maintain an open communication with one another to keep abreast with the updates happening in the barangay. These incidents should warn others too.
A family cannot afford to guard their home all the time or to be careful all their lives. They have businesses to attend to and they need help from the local government officials especially from the barangay officials to take care of security. Security in the barangay is one proof of the competency of barangay officials. Thieves are usually brave to take the risk of stealing because they observe the lack of security measures in many barangays. If local officials conduct regular patrolling, theft will be minimized. According to many people I’ve talked to, this modus operandi of stealing has been going on for several years. Newly elected officials must work double to ensure the safety and security in all barangays.