I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but life as we’ve enjoyed it has become increasingly more dangerous. Living in a gated community sometimes gives us a false sense of security, and even in my house, we’ve succumbed to it. I leave the garage door open, the alarms off, and windows and doors open more times than I’d like to admit. On the other hand, when we’re there, we have ‘early warning systems’ called dogs with us, and I never discount their heightened sense of danger, knowing as I do that most burglars would pass my house by once they heard the barking.
I say most—not all. And it’s that other twenty percent of criminals that I worry about. The types that would ignore my dog, perhaps because they know it’s friendly because they’ve met before…and who would continue on unthwarted into my home, armed, and anticipating danger. Most likely they’d strike late at night, while we were asleep, when all of us are most vulnerable. They’d overpower us, and use force if they met with resistance.
This is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, and guess what? It happened in Pelican Landing last Wednesday night. If you lived in Bonita Bay or the Brooks, you received the details that were also broadcast on the local television news the next day. An armed home invasion that was perpetrated by three Hispanic males who overpowered a couple whom they’d wakened at 11:00 PM at gunpoint, then forced to the floor and bound with plastic cuff ties. They then used a taser gun on the homeowner for the information on the safe that held their valuables and made off with over $25,000 in jewels and other property. This took place at a residence in Tuscany, in the Colony.
PLCA decided to withhold the information and details – important details that could save someone’s life and heighten their awareness at the least – from our residents. Contrast this bad decision with the correct decision made by the managements of The Brooks and Bonita Bay. Both communities were immediately warned of the significant danger still on the loose nearby. Similar home invasions were committed this past spring in Naples, leaving me with the impression that gated communities, because of the false sense of security that they give, are ripe for the picking.
I spent many years in law enforcement, and though I met many a stupid criminal, the cleverest ones seemed to be the burglars. The good ones were patient planners, and the bad ones got caught. The good ones examined their victims well before the event. The reason, I think, that the occupied homes are chosen in the summer is because the burglars know that most people take the truly valuable and easy to carry items with them when they leave for the summer, and if an occupied home is located next to an unoccupied home, or surrounded by more two unoccupied homes, well then—their chances for other witnesses decreases exponentially.
We let our guard down when we shouldn’t. There are streets in Longlake that have only one home occupied during the summer. But there are workers, and landscapers, and air conditioning techs, home security folks and others who are in and out, and it only takes one of them to be that person you don’t want to see late at night in your home, at the other end of a gun.
Now, I’m going to say something that may not be politically correct, but is a fact nonetheless that we must recognize and discern. If you’ve been watching the news or reading the paper, you know that America’s southwest border is being overrun with illegal aliens crossing into this country. What you’ve heard is that they are all ‘unaccompanied children.’ Dig a little deeper, and you will find that is not true. The fact of the matter is that the Border Patrol has been so overwhelmed by the crisis presented by unaccompanied children, that they have virtually no officers securing the border, and they have no idea who is coming over, or whom they have missed. Statistically speaking, there will be criminals among them. Being from Central America, most of these criminals will be either staying in the Southwest, or moving to other states with similar temperate climates, as most are not presently equipped to live in colder climates. Law enforcement agencies in all these states are watching these developments with keen interest, preparing for the inevitable spikes in crime, violent and otherwise.
We don’t have to wait for it to get here; it is here. No matter what pink cloud our management wishes us to dwell in, the worst type of homeowner crime has landed at Pelican Landing, and things could get worse if we don’t take steps ourselves and demand our Board and Management take steps as well to protect us, and our property. It is their first duty to us.
The Privacy Department needs a thorough examination. Most gated communities have security managers that are trained former law enforcement executives or commanders. Unfortunately, our Privacy Department is woefully lacking in the basics, as evident by the most recent email where an armed home invasion—a crime that carries a life sentence—was merely labeled a “robbery,” an inaccuracy I know a professional would not make. The email did not provide details, used department store security language such as ‘ingress/egress’ and did not provide suspect descriptions or warnings other than ‘lock your doors,’ and other tired admonitions. Residents of Bonita Bay and The Brooks heard the details before we did, through broadcast emails. The fact that we did not is an unpardonable blunder. We still haven’t been informed of the details by our Privacy Department. If you ask for a copy of the report, you will be told that your request must be in writing, and that it could take up to ten days for your “official records request.,” with pertinent information redacted. Does that sound like they have your security high on their priority list? Pelican Landing has also had a dubious and uncooperative relationship with the entity we should be cultivating a great partnership with – the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. For years, they could not get a letter of cooperation with us, as they have with every gated community in Bonita Springs, for some unknown reason. Do these decisions resemble in any way the decisions of a Security entity with your safety in mind?
I can tell you from experience the thoughts that run through your head when a gun is pointed at you are not about property values! The other home invasion and attempted home invasion on Woodsage this summer should have been thoroughly investigated, and the residents of Longlake kept apprised of every detail. Yet we have heard nothing, despite the fact that Marv and I have repeatedly requested to see the Privacy reports, as well as the Sheriff’s report. I have been sent neither.
If the Privacy Department would be less concerned about taping the conversations between their officers and our residents, or continually taking an adversarial stance in their dealings with the homeowners of our community, we’d be ahead of the game. But when residents lose trust in the people who are assigned the most important duty of any community – their safety – then it is time that we revisit just who has been entrusted with that obligation.
When we return in September, I will forward to the Neighborhood our survey, which I’ve been crafting this summer. You can be sure we will be including a section devoted to your safety. If you have any particular questions about your safety, or want an accredited safety survey done of your home, please let me know and I will contact the Captain at the Bonita Springs Lee County Sheriff’s Office who will be happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have, in an honest and forthright manner, befitting the seriousness of these latest crimes.
I’m attaching a document that contains some things you can do, and what you should expect of a security department that has your safety in mind. I encourage you to read it and take it to heart.
In the meantime, have a wonderful rest of the summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all in September.
Very truly yours,
President, Longlake Neighborhood Committee