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Sleeping Safe in Howard County

Does recent news worry you?

Last week, my wife’s car, parked along the side of our absurdly quiet side street, was struck. The anonymous denter left no note, nor was any neighbor forthcoming with a tale of woe and bad driving. There was more than $2,500 worth of damage done to a car we haven’t yet owned for six months.

Although a minor incident, our hit-and-run seems inexorably tied to recent negative news reports, as if an unknowable and unexplainable black cloud is reaching across Howard County.  

and Patches both have long roundups of recent break-ins and thefts.

Last week, a was found in Ellicott City.

In April, an Elkridge woman's I’ve run past. In May, a resulted in two deaths.

These are terrible tragedies for our community, and one can’t help but wonder if these incidents are harbingers of things to come, warning signs of a society on the verge of collapse.

I worry, yes, looking at my newborn son, wondering if we made the right choice coming here. But I’m not going to run for the safety of Baltimore just yet.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Howard County’s 2011 crime rate was 31 percent below the state average, and violent crime was 63 percent lower than the rest of Maryland.

And it’s not just numbers that give me hope. This week, local blogger Tom Coale set out to push for the end of homelessness in Howard County, and in two days his readers—the Howard County community—have raised more than $1,300. Thirty people have come together and made tangible their belief that our community can be improved through concerted action.

That’s something I can believe in, something that, to me, says far more about the place we live and the people we live with than isolated incidents of crime and violence. A problem exists, there are some among us that need our help, and one spark, one catalyst—one blogger!—can make a huge difference.

My insurance company recommended that we examine cars in the neighborhood for scratches or paint from our car. I’m unwilling, though, to start up CSI:Elkridge. I prefer, however silly it might seem, to assume that whoever hit our car is in a tough position. Maybe they can’t afford insurance and were worried about the financial consequences of their actions. Maybe if they had stopped and been late for work they would have lost their job, a job they desperately needed. Maybe it makes me a sucker, but I prefer to believe the best about our community.

I’m proud to live in Howard County, and a few tragedies won’t change that. Each is an opportunity to come together, to support each other. For every negative news story, there are 30 others willing to donate their time, their money, their expertise to helping others. That energy, focused together, can accomplish anything. No criminal could ever stop that.

Polly June 28, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Well said TJ. The interesting thing I've read recently about crimes are that the perpetrators aren't even from Howard County. I moved here about 5 years ago and had no crime in my neighborhood that I am aware of and then suddenly 2 break ins on my short street just a few miles apart. Crime is everywhere and there is no place that is totally safe. As for the damage to your car, I'm sorry you have to deal with that expense. Be thankful it wasn't anyone in your home and just your car.
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