If you still think the North Country is immune to serious crime, consider the news of the past few weeks.
July 2: NBT Bank in Plattsburgh is robbed in the early afternoon, with an undisclosed amount of money taken. Police have named a suspect and are trying to track him down.
July 10: Walgreens Pharmacy in Plattsburgh is robbed of prescription drugs with a street value of $30,000, again in a bold daytime theft. Police are still trying to track down the man involved.
July 17: Police bust what they say in a meth lab on Eleanor Way in the Town of Plattsburgh. Three people are charged. Police reveal that another alleged meth lab was busted earlier in the month in Keeseville, with one arrest made there.
July 20: Another meth lab is busted in the Town of Plattsburgh, police say, this time on First Street. Two arrests are made.
These five crime arrests within a month should alert everyone to what area police have been warning about for many years: The North Country is on a drug corridor that stretches from Canada to New York City, and where there are illegal drugs, there is crime.
It’s time for local people to take the danger seriously here. But so many residents still think break-ins and drug violence are something that happens in a different neighborhood, not theirs. Many times, houses and cars are left unlocked. Prescription drugs sit out on counters. Guns aren’t locked in safety cabinets. Purses are left casually in a shopping cart while we walk farther away than we should.
Local people can help thwart crime just by being more street smart, more cautious. We don’t have to fear for our lives every time we leave our homes, but we should be aware that desperation can drive people to desperate acts. If we take more precautions, we make it harder for people to commit crimes.
We can be more alert to what is happening around us. Citizens should not try to solve crimes themselves or approach someone they suspect of having broken the law, but they can be the eyes and ears of the police in their neighborhoods. Signs are out there of crimes being committed. If you see a number of shady characters visit a house or apartment again and again for short periods of time, you might be watching drug buys. If you detect a strong rotten-egg odor from a nearby apartment, you may be smelling a meth lab in the making.
If you suspect a crime is taking place, call police. And routinely take precautions to protect your home, family and possessions. This still isn’t New York City, but our corner of the state has its share of serious crime, too.