From last year (2012) until lately, this small town where we live (in the province of North Cotabato, Mindanao Island, Philippines), had experienced an unusual high incidence of thievery. And what’s quite disturbing was the fact that the perpetrators of this crime are getting younger and younger – ranging from the age of 13 to 17 years old.
From the police file, there were 46 incidence of thievery in 2012 as compared to only 12 in 2011. Favorite items of the thieves are: 1) motorcycles (favorite brand – Honda XRM), 2) money, 3) mobile phones, 4) laptops, and 5) other valuable items – ranked in this order.
It was learned that a theft syndicate had been using minors to do the crime for them for one obvious reason. In the Philippines, there is an existing law that proscribe the imprisonment of minors (below 18 years old) who have committed crimes. They are referred to as juvenile delinquents or children in conflict with the law (CICWTL). When caught or apprehended, these minors are then committed to the Department of Social Welfare for temporary custody. They become liable of criminal offenses when they reached the age of 18, but by then, the victims have already lost their interest to file cases. Ergo, most of these minor offenders go scot free after some time, and the sad thing is, some of them become the masterminds of thievery after reaching the culpable age of more than 18 years old.
This crime syndicate operates from one place to another. They transfer operation either several towns away or even in neighboring provinces to avoid being caught if they stay quite unusually longer in just one place. Their being away for quite some time, usually more than a year, from their previous area of operation gives the residents enough confidence to believe that thievery is gone forever and the usual laxity sets in, making them easy targets the next time around.
I recall one police officer from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), probably, California’s finest, who said: “If you want to deter crime, think like a criminal.” And so scaling all possible entries around the house, I had come out with one bright idea: to close these possible entries with steel fences and gates. And not just one but three layers or what I call a multi-tiered defense system against burglars.
It would cost me some considerable amount of money, I know, but the security of one’s family lives, limbs and possessions are priceless and should not be compromised. And so without much ado, I started on the project. After some drawing designs and estimates, I bought the materials and hired a welder to start the ball rolling, so-to-speak.
This is the full view of the house from the national highway before the gates were installed (1).
As you go near the house and turn right, you see this approach which is the main entrance to the internal premises of the house. Here is the first gate – my first line of defense (2).
As you turn to the left, move further up (now facing North), this is the view (3). I had creatively put the steel fences in a place that don’t make them look like fences but rather an essential element of landscaping. (I have to get around with my brother-in-law’s instructions to all of us “not to erect fences around each house because it is better that we have the whole compound fenced”).
As you move up towards north and turn left (now facing west) you see this gate – my second line of defense (4). This gate and the steel railings secure the small veranda located just before the main entrance to the main building. At the instant any part of this gate is touched an alarm system is activated with a pre-recorded voice that says: “Pssssst, what do you do over there?” (This was recorded in the Pilipino language). This alarm system was the project of my second son (Jim) during his college days. He is now a licensed electronics communication engineer.
As you go up the veranda, move toward South, and turn right (now facing west) you see this main door that closes the main entrance to the main building. This is my third line of defense (5).
We are grateful and thankful to God that we had not experienced any kind of infringement by any burglar since this house was constructed in March 2010 to the time that we occupied it in October 2010 and up till today. This house is our third; the first one was constructed in 1986 and located in a neighboring town about 20 minutes drive away by road; the second one was constructed and completed in 1994 and located in Cotabato City more than two hours drive away by road.
I have also designed an emergency exit gate with a state-of-the-art lock system (6). It is so easy to push it open from inside but cannot be opened from the outside. The lock system is my secret design which I planned to register for patent application.
Our three neighbors were not as fortunate. The first victim lost a mobile phone and more than three thousand pesos in cash (about USD72) to the thieves, the second lost two mobile phones and more than ten thousand pesos in cash (about USD400), and the third victim lost a motorcycle (Honda XRM), one sack of rice, and a few pair of blue denim pants.
The thieves had not attacked this town since the onset of the New Year and until today (posting time). I wish they would not come back anymore to wreck another havoc on this sleepy small town where everyone almost knows everybody. And if they do, WE are a bit more prepared this time, including some improvement in gun proficiency and marksmanship – our fourth line of defense.
And our fifth and ultimate defense is… prayers.
(WE – refers to my three boys, my son-in-law and me. As a professional shooter myself, since 1993, I served as the marksmanship instructor for the four boys).