>Burglaries prompt review
By John Bowler
   CRR Correspondent
   Over the past few weeks, multiple reports have been received of Crooked River Ranch residents' homes being burglarized and Ranchers personally being victimized by unscrupulous or incompetent goods vendors and suppliers of services.
   Periodically, it is prudent to review important aspects of self-protection to avoid suffering personal losses because one's guard is temporarily down.
   Most Ranchers chose this subdivision as their home because of its isolation from the hubbub of urban sprawl. Many of us came here from metropolitan areas with homes packed tightly together on small building lots and streets crowded with noisy traffic.
   The luxury of more space between neighbors, less noise, fewer noxious odors and distracting activity was what we sought when we moved to the Ranch.
   Our new environment, with its privacy, clean air, and friendly but more distant neighbors, reduces the feeling of threats existing to our well-being and security.
   That's reinforced by hearing fewer sirens from police and fire protection vehicles on our streets and roads than in our former places of residence. The Ranch is a pretty peaceful place day in and day out compared to where many of us came from.
   On top of that, neighbors and others you meet on a Ranch walk are generally friendly. They typically wave or issue a verbal greeting in passing, even if they don't know you or haven't seen you before.
   If you encounter a problem while traveling around the Ranch, chances are somebody will stop to enquire if they can help you and will lend a hand if you say you need it. As the saying goes, "Crooked River Ranch is a great place to hang your hat."
   Nevertheless, like all communities, the Ranch attracts the usual proportion of scallywags and scoundrels, always in the mix in any group of human beings either as permanent residents or intrusive visitors.
   They have no compunction about robbing people of their possessions or cheating them by selling substandard or flawed goods and services and they seldom pass up an opportunity to do it.
   We need to be aware of the threats they pose and make sure safeguards are securely in place to thwart their evil intentions.
   The trick is not to provide them with the opportunity to do evil. That requires keeping one's guard up at all times. Cases in point are the burglaries at two Ranch homes in the last two weeks.
   One was entered mid-day through an unlocked front door. Almost $5,000 worth of money, jewelry and other small portable items was carried off. The owner had gone to town and left the house unprotected for about three hours -- a common Ranch practice.
   Somebody apparently had been observing the action at the residence and took advantage of it being left unprotected.
   In the other instance, the owner went away overnight, but had given a key to neighbors so they could feed pets and check on things while the home was vacant.
   All entrances had been locked, but the burglar gained access by removing the screen of an unlocked window and entered through it, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Personal articles valued at about $3,000 were missing when the owner returned the next day.
   Both burglaries were made easy to carry out because the respective owners had not made certain their residences were locked securely at all access points.
   Even if they had, it is no guarantee their homes would not have been forcibly entered. But, burglars are less inclined to take the time and make the noise that goes with forced entry into a house. It increases the risk of them being heard and caught in the act.
   The obvious safeguard is: don't leave any of your home's access points unlocked when you are leaving it unattended -- even for a few hours.
   Also make sure you thoroughly vet anybody entrusted with a key to enter your home for whatever reason while you are away.
   "We do not need to make it easy for the crooks to gain entry into our homes and we shouldn't advertise that we are not home," said Sheriff Jim Adkins. "This is another reason why I think Neighborhood watch is so important, especially at the Ranch. We need neighbors watching out for their neighbors."
   Because police aren't always close at hand, he said, "We need to team up, so I can do my job better. We may not be able to be on scene at the time of an incident, but when we investigate, we need input and as much assistance as possible."
   With regard to protecting yourself against unscrupulous vendors and suppliers, it is suggested first you know with whom you are dealing before you buy anything from those who solicit your patronage.
   Be especially wary of goods and services with prices considerably below what you have seen from familiar suppliers.
   If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. It's best to satisfy your curiosity that they are legitimate and not a screen for poor quality or service. Don't fall for the line, "They are going fast and you need to buy now or miss out." Instead, check them out.
   Many suppliers, such as building contractors, doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, plumbers, electricians and the like are licensed by state agencies. You can check their records with the licensing agency and ask the supplier for references you can contact.
   The old adage of "ask the man who owns one" is still valid. Take your time selecting a new vendor or service supplier you don't know well to make sure you aren't in for a price fleecing or stuck with below-standard workmanship. It just might save you a bundle.
   Lastly, vendors in several cases reportedly made product performance claims that turned out to be false or overhyped when the buyers took products home and tried to use them. It's important not to accept vendors' claims without verification before you take possession of the goods from the vendor. Once you do, it's more difficult to press any claims or have the goods accepted back by the vendor.
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