Cove police arrested a man for stalking this week. He was arraigned as a repeat offender, according to police reports. A conviction for a second offense of this crime carries penalties for a second-degree felony.
According to the arrest affidavit, the man left letters in the victim’s mailbox, which the recipient considered to be threatening and placed her in fear of bodily injury or worse. Texas Penal Code statute 42.072 (stalking) includes fear of bodily injury or damage to property among the elements of the crime.
To me, this crime rates high with other crimes that threaten the safety and serenity of our citizenry. In my career, I witnessed incidents of stalking morph from simple harassment to crimes of sexual assault and other even more serious crimes against people. That is the reason the Texas Legislature assessed such a high class of penalties to this crime. Fortunately, this crime does not frequent the Copperas Cove stage.
Crimes against children were reported and are being investigated by Cove police. The worst of these was a report of endangering a child and injury to a child causing bodily injury.
What could a child possibly do to provoke being deliberately placed in danger and injured by an adult? To me, this category of crime is intolerable in any form.
The second crime involving children was yet another instance of possession of child pornography. There is an alarming upward trend in this category of crime in Copperas Cove. There are law enforcement agencies — local, state and federal — devoted to detecting and prosecuting these crimes, particularly those perpetrated online. We, in Cove, have seen people convicted of this crime face stiff penalties in the recent past. Yet, it continues.
A sexual assault also was reported to police this week. While not occurring so frequently as to support a trend, this crime happens all too often. Once is too many occurrences.
Another identity theft occurred in Cove this week. This global crime is, in my opinion, epidemic in some parts of the country and of growing concern in our city and surrounding areas. We should all safeguard our personal information against being divulged in person and online.
Shredding unwanted personal information on bills and invoices is an important step toward protecting yourself against this potentially financially-devastating crime. The threat does not only exist online. Dumpster divers still exist. There are those who routinely obtain the personal information of others by going through trash cans and other waste depositories.
It appears this week our recent rash of vehicle burglaries was replaced by multiple thefts. Eleven thefts were reported to Cove police this week. These crimes range from the thefts of family dogs, to a felony theft of household goods valued at more than $52,000. Did no one see that occur?
Once again, thieves targeted electronic devices including GPS units and a computer tablet. These items are always targeted because they are easily converted to another’s personal use or pawned or sold and because there is usually no identifying information on the items.
Chances of recovering stolen items, particularly those that are pawned, increase exponentially if they are marked in some unique manner or serial numbers are recorded.
Pawnshops are not allowed to accept items with altered or obliterated serial numbers. I have recovered electronic items that were identifiable by as little as a missing knob and scratches in the finish. Your property costs you money. Protect it as if it were money. That is what it will cost to replace.
John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement. He served more than 20 years with state police and more than a decade with city police.