Or something like that...
Just the other day, the security guard company (guarding our neighbourhood), emailed me to remind me to keep my front gate closed and my front door locked at all times.
The company rep related a recent incident in our neighbourhood where the house owner got home, leaving his gate ajar and front door unlocked, and went straight upstairs. Not a moment too soon, someone came into the house and took off with several items on the ground floor. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
How I have heaved a sigh (of helplessness) one too many times.
What scary times we are living in.
When I first moved into my neighbourhood in 1986, I could leave my gate ajar, anytime of the day. There were hardly any cases of snatch-theft or burglary.
My kids could play in the driveway with the gate wide open.
When Adel was learning to ride the bicycle, I took him around the neighbourhood.
When Adel and later, Shaira, were big enough to play in the playground nearby, I'd walk with them to get there.
And I'd not think twice about walking to the nearby shops.
Then, steadily, cases of petty crimes occured. Still, I was confident that they were isolated cases,
But when a neighbour's house was broken into in broad daylight one not-so-fine afternoon, it got me spooked. Only because I had my children at home (with the maid) while I was away at work.
In those days, few houses had automatic/electronic gates installed. You'd usually see bungalows or those huge detached houses with these gates. A kind of status symbol, although, yeah, I'd install the gate if I lived in a huge bungalow.
I used to (and still do) work late hours. When I got home, I'd go out of the car and open the gate, drive into the garage and walk to the gate to close and lock it.
For a very long time, I never thought much of it.
The too-close-for-comfort incident got me worried. So I had an automatic gate installed. For safety. And it was clearly the damn right thing to do.
Today, almost every house -- and I'm talking link houses here -- has got an automatic gate installed. It is really a necessity.
Today, we are all one frightened lot.
Our neighbourhoods are fair game to any would-be criminal.
It's very easy to point fingers at the police for not stepping up their patrolling of residential areas.
Have they given this low priority? Or they are under-staffed?
Whatever the reason, I'm seeing neighbourhoods becoming gated residential areas. For better or worse, I don't know.
The point is, these security guards cannot "close" the roads because I believe it is illegal to do so on public roads.
Several entry/exit points in our neighbourhood have got those things you put up by security guards. They are not "closed". Just manned.
Perhaps the guards are already familiar with the residents' cars that they allow vehicles to pass through.
So, really, from a security point of view, this is as good as not having those points "guarded". Anyone can actually enter the area.
Yeah, what's the point then, of having these guards?
I suppose, it's better than not having any kind of security at all. Besides, I suppose, it makes the residents feel s a f e r.
But, how sad it is that our neighbourhoods have gone that way. Guarded at almost every point.
"What to do...not safe these days.." said a friendly neighbour. So resigned to the state of things.
Oh..for those wonderful carefree days where we can leave our gates unlocked, take that walk to the neighbourhood shops with nary a care or fear of the unknown, play in the park/playground without worry of crazed abductors...