Civilization makes a comeback

This week ranks among area's best in terms of crimefighting

It was a bad week for the bad guys in these parts.

In particular for the misanthropic buzzards who think they have a right to enter your home at will and take your hard-earned possessions.

Fact is, burglars may never have had a worse week in this area’s history.

Mid-morning on Monday, a would-be burglar in Harlem – with a woman and 2-year-old child waiting in a sport-utility vehicle – made the mistake of treading straight into the heart of Second-Amendment Land: As he was trying to break into a house, an armed neighbor stopped by to see if he could be of assistance. He was: He held the burglar at gunpoint for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

On Wednesday night, as his father struggled with a couple of brazen home invaders, a Martinez 15-year-old managed to retrieve his father’s .22-caliber rifle and kill one of the attackers, while the other slunk off to where the wild things are.

Though completely justified in every manner possible, we can’t imagine how difficult that was for the young man. But while no death should be celebrated, his family should be eternally proud of his fortitude and quick thinking. Defending one’s hearth and home is a wholly righteous, noble act. Moreover, the family should be gratified that it raised a young man so readily equipped for
self-reliance and even heroism.

But for the shotgun approach to battling burglars this week, we had Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength – whose forces swept through town like a spring storm to round up 80 burglars and thieves Tuesday, the climax of a seven-month undercover operation resulting in 110 indictments.

Strength’s Raiders assembled dozens of stolen guns and half a million dollars’ worth of pilfered possessions – largely by setting up a sting operation
posing as an illegal pawn shop at a shady south Augusta cigarette store. Once the
ne’er-do-wells heard about the faux fencing operation, they flocked to it like the return window after Christmas.

In fact, several of the crooks were so productive they had to be taken off the streets before “Operation Smoke Screen” concluded.

Yep. A really bad week for burglars in these parts.

Sad to say, they may be having a better time in Atlanta, where state lawmakers are toying with criminal justice “reform” that may go easier on some burglars in order to save the state money on prisons. Let’s hope the state’s savings don’t end up costing yours or your neighbor’s.

For now, the people of this community just can’t adequately thank Sheriff Strength and his officers – as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service – for risking everything to protect our homes and lives. They get it. They get that burglary and theft are about much more than “stuff.” It’s about our peace of mind. It’s about the “right of the people,” as the Fourth Amendment put it, “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Our founders were talking about protection from the government – but the concept applies to low-lifes as well.

It’s about whether we have a civilized society or not.

This week, civilization made a nice comeback here.

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