On Oct. 10, two intruders entered Herschel "Bud" Moore's home. They beat up the 94-year-old veteran, ransacked his home and made off with around $2,500 in cash and other stolen items.
This home invasion robbery was quite brutal.
Reports say the men walked into Moore's bedroom, started hitting him, threatened him at gunpoint and tied his hands behind his back. Moore said he managed to bite one of his attackers. During the assault, he told police that one of the men pushed his head into a pillow, making it difficult to breathe.
When I first read this report, I was disturbed by the violence enacted upon Moore. The perpetrators seemed especially vicious due to Moore's advanced age.
Despite my shock at the heinous nature of this robbery, I'm sorry to say that I soon put thoughts of this crime out of my mind. While brutal, robbery and assault occur all too often here in the Valley.
However, this home invasion robbery didn't happen in the Valley — or in California.
Moore is a resident of my old stomping grounds, Arcadia, Indiana. The population of this central Indiana town is 1,697 — that's approximately 68,000 fewer people than reside in Turlock.
Back when I was growing up (a long, long time ago — but not really), no one locked their front door, or the back door, or their car doors. Crime was infrequent and usually had to do more with domestic violence than criminal enterprises. So, when news of Moore's attack became public, the residents of Arcadia were more than just disturbed. In fact, they were furious.
Through the modern wonder of Facebook, I've been able to keep up with the town's reaction. California may have been the 'Old West' but it looked to me like these criminals were in store for some down-home Hoosier justice. A rallying call to find the perpetrators was put out and I wouldn't have been surprised to see an actual posse patrolling the street of Arcadia.
Before I could become too concerned with how far my former classmates would take this call to arms, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department arrested two men suspected of attacking Moore. Case closed, right?
The day the arrests were announced was the same day a town meeting was set to take place regarding the home invasion robbery. Despite the apparent capture of the criminals, the meeting went forward.
The next day Arcadia Town Marshal William Hickrod tendered his resignation, telling the Indianapolis Star: "I don't want to be somewhere I'm not wanted. If people don't believe in you, you don't need to be working for them."
According to other reports of the meeting, town residents publicly and voraciously criticized Hickrod's handling of the robbery. He was the first officer on the scene after 911 was called, and failed to immediately sweep the home for evidence.
I don't know what to think of Hickrod's resignation, but seeing how the residents of Arcadia reacted to this robbery made me rethink my reactions to local incidents. Have I become too complacent when it comes to crime?
According to the Turlock Police Department’s annual report, there were 2,951 part one crimes (which includes aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, robbery, arson, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) reported in 2013.
The number may seem like a lot, but since 2010 the crime rate has mostly stayed flat. Considering that the department has seen a reduction in staffing over the years and what Police Chief Rob Jackson described as an “increase in the criminal element in our community” from the California Prison Realignment Project, staying at a relatively flat rate was an achievement all in itself.
Larger cities are going to have more crime than small towns, no matter how good the police are at enforcement. But it seems to me that Turlock could learn a lesson in community building from Arcadia. The residents of that small Indiana town reacted to the attack on Moore like it happened to their own parent or grandparent.
If Turlock acted as one big Neighborhood Watch, then maybe there'd be a few less crimes for Chief Jackson to report.