Editorial: A frosty encounter
Lock your car doors. In the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, a man robbed a woman waiting at the drive-through of a Salisbury fast-food restaurant. After she refused to surrender her car, he punched her in the face, took her purse and fled.
As the restaurant manager later said, ětimes are tough and people are scary.î They sure are.
The Wilco-Hess opposite this Wendyís on East Innes Street is a well-known hot spot for crime, so maybe we shouldnít be surprised that trouble would cross the street. But it is alarming to think a person would be brazen enough to rob someone in the drive-through line at 3 oíclock in the afternoon.
Violent crime in Salisbury peaked in 2006 and 2007 and has generally declined since then. But the rash of murders in Rowan and Salisbury last year and incidents like the drive-through hold-up give the public the impression that crime is increasing.
According to the Department of Justice, the rate per 100,000 people of Crime Index offenses reported to law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina decreased 8.8 percent during 2009 (the latest year for which the department has statistics) when compared to the figures reported in 2008. That was true for violent crime, down 12.5 percent; including murder, down 19.1 percent; rape, unchanged; robbery, down 17.6 percent; and aggravated assault, down 10.7 percent.And it was true for property crime (burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft), down 8.4 percent across the state.
Statistics are no help, though, when a stranger opens your car door and says ěget out.î A person ought to be safe going to a fast-food restaurant during the day, but crime can happen anywhere at any time. Salisbury Police need to crack down on this area. In the meantime, law enforcement websites pass on these tips for preventing carjackings:
Keep doors locked and windows rolled up, no matter how short the distance or how safe the area.
Look around, especially at places where you slow down or stop, such as parking lots, intersections, gas stations, ATMs ó and drive-through lines at restaurants.
When coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, in case you sense trouble and need to get away.
Avoid driving alone, if possible, especially at night.
Donít stop to assist a stranger whose car has broken down; go to the nearest phone and call police for help.
Here are tips in case you find yourself face-to-face with a carjacker:
If a person threatens you with a gun or other weapon, give up your car. Donít argue. Your life is worth more than a car.
Get away as quickly as possible.
Contact the police immediately.
Sometimes safety tips are easier said than done. Everyone has to drive alone at some point ó many of us do it frequently. And the woman who fell victim to the drive-through thief froze; he didnít give her time to think about getting out or resisting. But she did have time to reflect afterwards. All he got from her were some debit cards, $2 cash and Bible verse cards. ěHe needs those,î she said. He needs to be arrested; then heíll have plenty of time to read.