Posted January 17, 2008 5:15 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2008 5:17 a.m. EST
Every once in a while, something happens to journalists that mimics something we have covered in real life. In these instances, we get the rare opportunity to truly understand a situation in a way that we could not have done before.
I knew right away when I saw the shattered glass on the ground what had happened. There were green chards all over the ground on the street next to the car. Dangling fragments still hung precariously from the corners of the passenger-side window.
Someone had smashed the window of our company car. We had been gone less than 25 minutes. The car was parked in a busy shopping area in downtown Raleigh in the middle of the day. Luckily, the thief managed only to grab my photographer's iPod and not anything else of real value. Yet, it was the principle that you could leave your car for just a few minutes in a safe area in broad daylight and this could happen.
Ironically, just the day before, two teenagers were arrested for smashing dozens of car windows around Raleigh on New Year's Day. Most of them awoke to the crime as their cars sat parked in their driveways or in the street in front of their homes. They awoke to a mess to clean up, a window that had to be immediately covered to keep out rain and cool air, and to an insurance nightmare.
Raleigh police say a whopping 23 percent of major crimes in our city are larcenies from cars. That adds up to more than 3,500 incidents of theft a year. Many of these larcenies occur from unlocked vehicles.
Although in our case, the window was smashed in a company car versus one of our personal cars, I still, in that moment, felt the shock, anger and violation those victims must have felt on New Year's Day. I couldn't believe someone would do something so ugly in a public place in broad daylight with no fear of getting caught. It made me realize that every crime, small or large, is important to the victim. As journalists, it is crucial to understand this.
Again, we're out an iPod. It is not the end of the world. But it makes the world appear a little less friendly and a little more unsafe.