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Fight against hot prowlers

Posted: December 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.

This time of year is especially noted for being filled with family gatherings, holiday shopping, gift giving and school vacations. A sense of joy and goodwill permeates our little valley as it does in many communities throughout the world.

Because we are distracted with hope and shopping each December, I wanted to point out several kinds of “hot prowls” that threaten your health, wealth, and sense of community.

A hot prowl is the term law enforcement uses to describe acts with criminal intent that include randomly searching for an opportunity to steal and take advantage.

Hot prowls are particularly dangerous because these criminal acts are often characterized by the desperate searching for immediate rewards without any real plan or preparation.

Sometimes this kind of thief knocks on the front door and then forcibly enters through the rear of a home when no one answers. “Knock-knock burglars” may hit several homes in one neighborhood, one after another, usually between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays when no one is typically home and when families are on vacation.

The spontaneous nature of hot prowling makes it difficult to anticipate these crimes, placing residents at risk when several thugs enter a home thinking it is unoccupied. This sometimes brings resident and prowler face to face.

A new kind of hot prowl in the last few years has emerged in retail settings as well. This involves the stealing of purses and wallets or even whole shopping carts full of goods while a shopper is distracted.

Keep your purses or wallets on your person, safely secured, and not in a shopping cart. Keep your hands on your shopping cart after you purchase your goods and especially when crowds are present or in the parking area.

Watch for anyone who attempts to come between you and your items.
“Knock-knock burglars” and purse- and gift-snatchers are worrisome but not the only risks. “Non-profiteers” also take advantage of our generosity this time of year.

Someone knocking on your door asking for donations in many cases is just like a hot prowl, where chance and opportunity are tools of the unsavory, except in this case you hand someone money freely and happily.

Many front door and phone solicitations from a “police association” or that claim to support firefighters, needy children or other worthy causes are nothing but scams.

Unless you know the charity personally (our local nonprofits are very reputable and effective), donate on-line after looking them up at to see what percentage of donations actually goes to serving the needy.

There is no law the requires non-profits to spend on anyone but themselves, and so many solicitors keep all the money for their own holiday joy.

Also at this time of year our political representatives cease to pretend like they are actually working: for several weeks, when no laws are enacted, no bills are passed, and nothing of relevance occurs, they actually admit they are not working.

Throughout the year, many of our elected push out a lot of hot air, argue about how they argue, and then everything stays the same.

Do you recall any significant decision our City Council made this year? Is there one important decision the state Legislature put into law in 2013? Did Congress truly do something to make a positive impact on our lives since last

New Year? Nothing seems to change no matter who is in office and which party “is in control.”

This last type of hot prowl involves politicians stealing our trust and lulling us into complacency.

While our legislative bodies are in recess, it is the perfect time to meet and discuss your feelings with our representatives. Perhaps the tables can be turned.

Attempt to engage in your own political hot prowl, wherein you ask him or her, “What law, bill, or act will you introduce and see passed this coming year?”

What about requiring nonprofits to spend 75 percent or more on the causes they advocate? What about mandatory seven years’ prison terms for stealing a purse, wallet or merchandise?

What about mandatory 15 years in prison for hot prowling instead of getting probation for violating probation?

Wouldn’t the holidays be so much better when we can truly focus on peace, love and goodwill?

Jonathan Kraut serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV, on the SCV Human Relations Forum and on SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations. Democratic Voices appears Tuesdays in The Signal.



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