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Look out for your neighbors

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

There is little that makes me madder than a thief. You work hard for the things you own; whether they are things you need for work or home maintenance, like tools and lawnmowers, or things you’ve gotten for your children, like bicycles or musical instruments. It isn’t just the cost of these items either. Sometimes you have a sentimental attachment to the items. 

For instance, I had an old guitar that my grandfather gave me. It wasn’t an expensive guitar. It was a hollow-body Les Paul knock-off, with a Bigsby tremolo. Frankly the case it was in was worth more than the guitar. But it was my first guitar. When that guitar was stolen, it was like a piece of my heart was taken. 

At the same time it was stolen a very old PC was also stolen. It wasn’t worth anything anymore as a working computer. But, it had photos on it of my late grandmother working in her garden with my baby sister. Those photos were irreplaceable, and the only place they were saved was on that computer. This was the film era, and though I did still have the negatives, those were damaged when the thieves dumped out a foot locker filled only with photos and negatives to look for other valuables and they got wet. 

Some coins, cameras and other collectibles were stolen at the same time, but those didn’t hurt me as badly as the guitar and the computer. There was one exception to this. I had some autographed comic book art that was also taken. This wasn’t something I purchased or stood in line to have signed at a comic convention. This was a piece of promotional art for an – at the time I received it – upcoming Typhoid Mary and Wolverine story in Marvel Comics Presents, signed by the artist Steve Lightle. I was just a young teenager, and someone had criticized several of the artists working on the MCP series for their “cartoony” depictions. I wrote a letter defending the work of Lightle and Sam Kieth, saying that I appreciated their unique depictions. The letter was printed in one of the comics, and Lightle, just to say thanks, sent me that piece of signed art. It was a photocopy on red paper, signed in gold paint pen, “Jeremy, Thanks for reading MCP! Steve Lightle.” It might have had some slight value to a comic collector, but not much I’m sure. It was just a sentimental thing, like the guitar and the photos. 

I mention all this to say, I’ve heard recently of some car break-ins and stolen bikes around Carter County. One friend has had her car broken into twice. The things that are taken from a car break in might not be very valuable, in money terms; some compact discs or loose change. But the feeling of violation is real. And, you never know if that small key-chain, or that breath mint tin full of coins, might have had some deeper meaning to the owner. The bikes definitely mean a lot to the kids who lose them. So keep your eyes out for your neighbors if you’re sitting up late at night, or are up early in the morning. If you see someone snooping around, ask them what they’re doing. Your neighbors will definitely appreciate not having to repair the jimmied lock on their car. But you might also just save some tiny heirloom that means the world to them. 

Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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