Can't take personal safety for granted

SEVERAL incidents in Orange in recent weeks underline the fact that personal safety can no longer be taken for granted in this regional city.

Despite the sense of outrage many people feel at having to lock doors and close windows at night, the traditional belief that people in the country are safer than their city cousins is no protection against this sort of crime.

Robbing people sitting in stationary vehicles was once considered a brazen crime perpetrated at red lights or traffic jams in metropolitan areas. But as a knife-point robbery in Hill Street on Monday night demonstrated, the streets of Orange are not necessarily a safe place for motorists.

This time it was under the cover of darkness that two teenagers bailed up a driver who had stopped to talk on his mobile phone.

Just a few years ago such a crime would have been unthinkable in Orange but this was not the first case of its type here.

Recently an elderly man was pulled from his car at a red a light in Summer Street and robbed in the early hours of the morning.

And again this week several home burglaries have prompted police to warn residents not to leave doors and windows open, or even unlocked, on hot summer nights. The knowledge that a house is occupied is clearly no deterrent to many thieves.

These trends should concern police, our politicians and our courts. But while they grapple with the problem there is no sense in the public refusing to consider changing their behaviour.

Internal central locking buttons are now standard on almost all cars and for a reason. More and more people feel less certain of their personal safety on the road at night, in poorly-lit car parks and even in busy streets where traffic may be halted - and that includes Orange.

We should feel anger at this erosion of our personal safety, and demand action from police and government, but we should also help them by considering our own personal safety.

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