Last year I saw someone committing a crime. At the time, it didn't cross my mind that what the guy was doing was illegal. I just thought it was rude and stupid and something I'd never do. So, as I walked by with my dogs, I just shook my head in befuddlement. (For the record, I am not going to go into the details here on my blog. I have to live with my neighbors. I also have one request- if you know the entire story, please do not reference it here. We're going to be talking in big, sweeping generalizations. Fair?)
Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that what the guy did was illegal and if we reported him, there would be a big, fat fine. I made the decision to let it go because I didn't really have any proof. It would have been a “my word against his” situation. Plus, if people really wanted to know what happened, it was pretty easy to infer from what I will call “breadcrumbs” or little clues in my neighborhood. So, I let it go.
Unfortunately, it's nagging at me a little bit. The situation cost the city that I live in a bunch of money to clean up the mess and they are still doing it today. Essentially, it also cost me and all of my neighbors money too because it's our tax dollars at work. And, who's to say that the guy won't do it again.
Reporting a crime is an interesting conundrum when it comes to a neighbor because of the social dynamics. Some people are tight friends. Others barely know each other. But all of us have to live on the same street, go to the pool parties and wave at each other as we walk our dogs. We seem to walk on eggshells around each other even for some of the small things Take for example the teenager that's been driving too fast through our neighborhood. There was discussion of “should we tell the parents” before the call was made. My answer was yes, he might hurt himself or someone else. Yet, we were worried about our neighbor's reaction. Why?
Honestly, we're all afraid to piss off a neighbor. So, the day that I saw the crime it bugged me, but I didn't say anything. Even though I knew that he wasn't supposed to do what he was doing, I said nothing. I don't really know him and it wasn't my place (for the record, if I saw a neighbor stealing a car, shooting wildlife in city limits or putting someone else in harms way, I'd call the cops immediately). But now I know.
So, if it happens in the future, I'll say something and report him. After watching the city's dollars at work in our neighborhood the past couple of days, I hope he thinks twice before he attempts it again. But, if not, I don't owe him anything. He's just a guy down the street, who doesn't talk to me at the pool parties or even wave when I walk by. So, he's not really what I'd call a neighbor anyway.
Do you look the other way when stuff happens in your neighborhood?