Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tips for tots and trail users

The editor of a neighborhood association newsletter here in Lincoln contacts me from time to time for a contribution. She recently emailed me and asked if I could give her a few Halloween tips. I gave here the predictable tips about traffic safety--light colored costumes, reflective material, flashlights and glo-sticks, good peripheral vision and so forth. I also gave her a few tips on being careful with candles, to prevent Zorro's cape or Miss Piggie's boa from falling into a flame.

She made a few tweaks and additions (she's an editor, after all), reformatted it into a bulleted list, and emailed it back for my okay. I couldn't help but notice, though, an additional tip she had included in the list:

  • If your child is carrying a prop, such as a scythe, butcher knife or
    a pitchfork, assure that the tips are smooth and flexible

I don't know why this tickled me so much; I guess I had this mental picture of dad in the garage with his bench grinder, rounding the points down on the pitchfork tines for Junior. Just for the record, I'm not recommending scythes, butcher knifes, and pitchforks for kids..

The editor of another newsletter, this one published by the Great Plains Trails Network, also asked me to write a column. Apparently the editor is a reader of the Chief's Corner, and caught this post about thefts at trail heads. Here's the advance copy:

Vigilance on trails helps

When you consider the number of people who use Lincoln’s trails, they are quite safe by any reasonable standard. Nonetheless, just like any other place where people are found, we have a few crimes that on our trails and in the parking lots at trail heads. So far in 2008, there have been 25 incidents on trails reported to the Lincoln police. Of these, 11 were graffiti vandalism. The incidents that concern me the most involved a pair of indecent exposure cases. In both cases, arrests have been made—one by an off duty police officer who was using the trail.

Also of concern is a group of thefts from automobiles parked at trail heads—two on the MoPac, and 7 at the Jamaica North. Parks, trail heads, swimming pools, and fitness clubs are relatively common locations for smash and grab thefts from autos, for the obvious reason that the owner has left the vehicle and can be expected to be gone for an hour or more. Moreover, the thief can be reasonably certain that a wallet, purse, and perhaps a laptop are left in the car.

There are a couple of things regular trail users can do to help prevent these crimes. First, you can consider biking or running to the trail head as a warm up, and avoid leaving your car in the lot at all. If you drive, keep your valuables locked in the trunk—thieves are much less likely to enter a trunk than the passenger compartment. Anything visible from the outside is an enticement to a thief—even a pair of sunglasses—so make sure that your remote opener, glasses, cell phone, CDs and so forth are all out of sight. Finally, be vigilant, and don’t hesitate to call us if you see someone or something that seems suspicious. Often the suspicious glance alone is enough to cause a thief to move on.

One final word: personal attacks on trails, though rare, really do happen. There were two of these in 2007. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but both of these were serious incidents. The perpetrators were arrested in both cases. If you are even approached by someone threatening, get away. Now is the time for your interval training. Most would-be-muggers are smokers, drug abusers, and often high. In a footrace or on a bike, they are no match for a fit trail user, and won’t be able to pursue long. We enjoy arresting exhausted bad guys.


Anonymous said...

Thats Nice too.

Anonymous said...

The editor forgot about the most lethal weapon of all. Kids beware! They are everywhere....

ARRRRG!!!! said...

"If your child is carrying a prop, such as a scythe, butcher knife or
a pitchfork, assure that the tips are smooth and flexible."

Don't forget the hook and parrot beak and make sure you unload the gun.

Just make sure your child has a safe Halloween and remind him/her that....

Anonymous said...

Why can't we be friends?

Anonymous said...

Like I've written before, if you're in good enough shape to go for a long trail ride, then you're also in good enough shape to leave the car at home in the garage. Ride that bike to the trail-head, then just keep riding. Your car will be safe and unmolested, still locked in your garage, when you return home. Trail-head thieves can't break into your car if it isn't even there in the trail-head lot!

As an old endurance cyclist (and a car nut), I have to ask this: Why do you want to climb into a nice car when you're just off the bike and pouring sweat, anyway? Better to bike all the way to your garage, then get in your shower.

Anonymous said...

Chief, I have seen some of your cops,some truly our a picture of fitness and then I saw some that look like heart attacks waiting to happen.Next time I get chased by one of your cops, I'll just throw down a burrito or two.

Anonymous said...

Chief and arrrrg,

We really enjoy your blog but enough already with the third grade pirate humor. This is a great blog with great information but get rid of arrrrg for everyones sake. Thanks!

Herb said...


Why do we have to have bandwidth wasted on the pirate crap?

If it was even remotely related to funny, I promise I would feel different. It's just a waste of our time and yours.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of larceny from vehicle, I hope that that the victim of A8-095219 wasn't one of yours. I'm assuming it was at least a private security guard, based on some of the items stolen. Yet another unlocked vehicle! Looks like the crime-free and ultra-clean Lodge Apartments again.

Anonymous said...

With any luck, the cop that chases 5:54 will be a Czech immigrant named Jake, truly a picture of physical fitness. Hopefully, Jake's handler will mysteriously forget the "pust" command, resulting in a 5:54 that will do all future running slowly, and with a permanent limp.

Anonymous said...

I like the pirate humor, sometimes it seems to lighten up the dry blog or other dry comments. I am very curious as to how it got started though, just seems like one day it began.... Keep it up Arrrrg! Don't let the man keep you down! Viva La Arrrrg!
-Anon 4:12, gotcha ya on Jake, I get it now- At first I thought you were talking about the recruit! :)