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Sun Times Feature Story


When Crime Hits Home


By Larry Blustein
sfsuntimes@aol.com
The image was vivid. A car-theft suspect led into a Hallandale Beach Police Car in handcuffs - while the other is dead. Not the image that you want from your city!
But before you start being Mr. Miss Ms. or Mrs. judgmental, let’s, as they say, slow your roll. Crime as a whole has escalated in south Florida, and while Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Dania Beach, North Miami Beach and yes, even upscale Aventura have often been the epicenter for these crimes, there is really no need to start moving away.
Check any area of south Florida - or the country for that matter - and violent crime has been on the increase since the economy went south well over a decade ago. Theft, burglaries, strong-arm robberies and anything that will give that quick financial boost in this awful economy, is the easy way out - and for some who could care less about anything - that adds up to something terrible.
Avery Bream is someone who was that victim last year in an upscale Northern Miami-Dade community. Middle of day, good neighborhood, but as this 45-year-old will tell you, a crime of convenience.
“I happened to get out my car in my own community and the next thing I knew, there were three males with the intention of getting something from me,” he recalled. “They wanted jewelry, my wallet, money and said they wouldn’t hurt me. These guys never hit me, but there was always that fear.”
If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of a 17-year-old neighbor, who came out of the house yelling at the men, Creed may have been seriously hurt, but still that is the part of society that is now a reality, and unfortunately, something that we have to be prepared for.

HALLANDALE BEACH IS PLENTY SAFE
For those who have been around Hallandale Beach for any length of time, they will understand that what happened last Sunday - when a suspect was shot and killed by a Hallandale Beach officer, responding to a report that two men “were looking in vehicles with flashlights” in the Golden Isles condo neighborhood, is isolated - at best.
Hallandale Beach has long been one of those communities that looking behind you when you are getting out of your car - was really not the first reaction, but times have changed, and if it takes us to be more aware of our surroundings, you do it.
Because of crimes like we have been experiencing for decades, and boiling over daily, the police and the community are coming in contact more than ever before, bringing those feelings that often escalate into something more than it should. But what happened in Hallandale Beach on Sunday perhaps illustrated the stress that law enforcement have been under - and sometimes seeing it first hand, like resident Maria Castillo - can change opinions.
“I see all these community vs. police things going on all the time on TV, and you think to yourself, wow, the cops were wrong for doing this or doing that,” she pointed out. “But living right where the helicopters were hovering above, and being in fear of what might happen, you can see how tense the situation was. Any time someone has to fire a gun, there is a huge problem.”
To point out any community and say that there is too much crime happening is unfair. Plantation, Coral Springs and other areas of the suburbs that make up Miami and Fort Lauderdale, will always be under a microscope because of the crime happening in their own neighborhoods. While Hallandale Beach may have been in the news this weekend, this entire region has shared the unfavorable spotlight as well.
As many police agencies continue to do what they can to fight crime and prevent things like what happened on Sunday from taking place, there are still going to be a lot of bad guys out there with bad intentions. At least on Sunday, what got HBPD in the news over the past year, body-cams, certainly proved their worth here as you could see EVERYTHING unfold!

PROTECT YOURSELF
Okay, so something horrific happened right here in our own community. But if we sit and dwell and become fearful of everything and anything, we are not living, but really just existing.
Criminals know very well that we are all creatures of habit, and they will exploit those habits to commit both violent and non-violent crimes against you. It's a simple concept to the criminal, when you become habitual in your day-to-day routines and lifestyle, you also become predictable. When you become predictable, you stand a much greater chance of becoming a victim.
The first and most important item to put into effect is Prevention. Many of the following suggestions seem to be common sense, but are ignored by many. In most cases you are in control of the circumstances in which you place yourself. Just by being aware that you are a potential victim of a personal crime is the first step toward prevention.
Probably the least expensive measure you can take to protect yourself against crime is to incorporate "security conscious" habits into your daily routine and lifestyle that make you and your family less vulnerable. The best prevention is Precaution. A basic rule is to stay alert to your surroundings. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.