Crimewatch with Walt Candelari
ONCE, I WAS among several friends, including Bill and Candy, who went to a Greek festival and had a ball. I love Greek food and, over the years, have acquired a taste for Retsina wine.
We all enjoyed the costumes, the music, the food and the whole experience. The dancers were outstanding, as was the music.
The finale was not to be missed as three of the entertainers’ most beautiful women came out and performed traditional belly dances that defied the laws of physics.
Bill was enthralled, so much so that he gave the ladies a standing ovation at the end. Candy was not impressed and Bill quickly realized that his enthusiasm was going to cost him. In an attempt to mollify and pacify his wife and dig himself out of a really deep pit, he pointed to me and said the dancers were a prime example of what I considered an excellent example of crime prevention.
No! He wasn’t going to drop that on me. That was not going to happen! I smiled and said he was correct and that he would explain. At this point, we all sat back, rolled up our pant legs as it was going to get very deep, and listened.
First, Bill said, belly dancing requires preparation. These young ladies had obviously worked long and hard to perfect their abilities. One only had to look at the control they had over their stomach muscles to see true dedication. Similarly, one has to do a lot of preparation around the house to strengthen it against burglaries – installing, for example, functional lighting and shrubbery, appropriate locks for exterior doors
Second, he said, like “target hardening” in crime prevention, you use shrubbery, lights and physical barriers to focus and direct people to specific areas; these ladies used their hands, the “twirly things” and the “shaky stuff” to direct our attention to their remarkable control over specific parts of their bodies.
Third, Bill maintained, it is the total composition of all the efforts of what you do to your property that will dissuade thieves from choosing your place. Same here, he said; by having three ladies dance at the same time, they multiplied the effect that only one would have.
The effect is magnified, he said, and, no matter where you are sitting, you have an excellent view of the finer points of belly dancing being demonstrated. It would be hard, he claimed, to choose one dancer over another as being the best and, like a thief, you would have to look elsewhere to make your selection. Can you follow his argument?
Fourth and most important, Bill added, effective crime prevention rests on the involvement and commitment of the community. He would be doing these ladies a terrible injustice, he lamented, if he did less than give them all of the positive reinforcement and support they so richly deserved. Like our neighbors, they need to know that their efforts are appreciated.
With that, Bill ended his defense with a flourish and another glass of Retsina. Without waiting for our response, he jumped up and joined the ladies on stage, where they were encouraging members of the audience try their hand – well, not really their hands – at the fine art of belly dancing.
As one, our entire table, including Candy, rose and gave him the response he so richly deserved – a resounding raspberry!
Remember: Think, plan and execute crime-prevention design. Don’t be a crime victim.
Walt Candelari is a crime-prevention specialist and community-policing officer with Dickinson police department.