It takes a village sometimes to keep us all safe

In the weeks, months and years following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a word being offered by many in national leadership was “vigilant.”

They urged us not to panic, and to not live our lives in fear, but rather to be vigilant — to pay attention to our surroundings and to alert someone in authority if we saw something, or someone, that seemed out of place. Granted, we are not privy to many national secrets, but the relative safety we have enjoyed from foreign terrorists can lead one to believe that group vigilance has helped keep us safe.

We recently saw a local example of this at work — a true example of a vigilant resident alerting authorities to something suspicious, and those paid to protect us jumping on this information immediately.

According to Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, a resident in his town had been victimized twice by a local burglar. The resident was obviously paying attention to his surroundings and the safety of his home when he spotted someone “snooping around,” according to McLaughlin.

“We were waiting for the call,” said McLaughlin. “We knew he was going to hit again. As soon as the call came in of a suspicious person in that area, we just pounced on it. We had four Ocean View officers out there pretty darn quick and started calling in everyone else.”

Who is “everyone else?” Well, officers from the Delaware State Police, Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach and South Bethany all responded to the call, and they were now all searching for a suspect who had reportedly fled on foot as soon as police began to arrive.

With that kind of team effort, the suspect, a 25-year-old Ocean View man, was taken into custody. According to McLaughlin, the man was charged with six counts of burglary third degree, six counts of theft, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of heroin. Police reportedly discovered eight bags of suspected heroin on his person when they made the arrest.

Keep in mind that this is just one arrest and does not in any way mean the rash of burglaries in the area will stop just like that. This is “burglary season” in this area, as many homeowners go elsewhere over the winter months, there aren’t a lot of renters in the homes and people are generally with less money this time of year as jobs dwindle down in the winter. But this does potentially stop one burglar from plying his trade, and it is an example of what can happen if we all work together.

Let the police make the arrests. But let’s help them out.