Some people refuse to accept the fact that things are different from what they were some years ago. They still think everybody is honest, that crime doesn't happen in their neighborhood, and if something isn't right the neighbors will look out for them.

Unfortunately, this isn't the way it is.

Within the past week or so, there were two cars stolen in Lehighton. One was on the Heights section, the other was in an alley. Both were recovered, one in Franklin Township, the other in Jim Thorpe.

In both cases, the cars were stolen because the keys were left in the vehicles.

Leaving keys in a car today is nothing less than sheer stupidity. It doesn't matter if your car is in front of your house, in your driveway, or even in your garage. Leaving the keys in the vehicle is an invitation for theft and possibly disaster.

If you leave your keys in the car and someone steals the vehicle, you can be held liable for damages caused.

It's not only in Lehighton that we hear about cars being stolen because the keys were left inside the vehicle. There have been similar cases in Summit Hill, Palmerton, and other municipalities.

The climate has changed even from a few years ago. Even the nicest neighborhoods are being visited by people with less-than-good intentions.

That is why officials are reminding residents to secure their properties, especially when away.

If you're elderly, it's smart to keep your doors locked and to be careful who you open them for when there is a knock.

Years ago you didn't hear much about home invasions and daylight burglaries or teams of crooks, whereby one thief distracted the homeowner while the other entered the home.

If you see suspicious activity, don't second-guess yourself. Call the police immediately.

We don't live in the big city but that isn't a factor for today's criminals who aren't being selective when it comes to the rural or urban homeowner.

Use common sense, don't be trusting, and watch out for your neighbor.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com