A lot of our friends in “big city” areas wonder about the types of crime that happen in rural areas in general, and in our part of East Texas, in particular. The answer is simple: Mostly, it’s the same cross-section of crime that you get in the cities, but there’s less of in. This is likely due in part to people out here almost universally owning multiple firearms.
It may be stereotypical to say that young men and women from Texas (and other rural areas like Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, are highly prized by military recruiters, but they are, and I expect a disproportionate number of recruits shooting “Expert” right off will be higher for rural recruits than city kids, for the simple reason than by age 12, or so, most kids (both sexes) have had plenty of shooting experience. Thanks to good training programs and groups like Ducks Unlimited, the sporting community hereabouts is excellent.
The crime is generally of the two-legged type. Mostly (as in cities) it seems to arise from the meth-heads which have cropped up about everywhere. But, since the local sheriff’s are on top of their game, we have not had any issues locally since about seven or eight years back when some druggies robbed the wrong home: The parents of a State Trooper.
As you can expect, a thorough investigation promptly followed, and that was the end of crime until here about 2-years ago we heard of an ATV being stolen by a drug/immigrant crowd that had rented a house in the area. Again, in short order, people out here watch one-another’s backs.
The rural crime scene is not terribly different in other countries, than here in the US. Take for example, the article over here coming out of the UK where the headline is “Police launch rural crime reduction operation.” Seems people are pretty much the same the world around – opportunistic creatures that aren’t entirely trustworthy, in the main, if no one is looking.
Pappy once that that distinction very clear to me: A person’s real honesty shows when there aren’t any witnesses around. It’s as true today as it was 58-years ago.
Crime in rural areas is somewhat dependent on weather, in an odd way: Seems to rise in spring, stay high through summer and then into fall, with another little bump up when hunting season is underway.
The reason? In rural areas, people know one another for several houses in any direction, unlike the city where I’ve lived in apartments and condos where I never met (nor did I even care to meet) my neighbors. Out here, though, summer does see an increase in travel, and around the opening of deer season, marginal city life forms may seep out into the rural areas on the excuse of “looking around.” Fortunately, local cops are onto that.
Also, what city folks often forget is how very well-armed rural folks are. A half dozen short arms and maybe a dozen long guns is pretty much what most of the folks out here have accumulated. There’s a joke that’s told locally that goes something like this:
“What’s the difference between have a dozen guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition in the City versus the same goods in East Texas?”
Answer: “In the City, you’re a terrorist. In East Texas, that’s a reasonable start on a gun collection….”
A good bit of the crime out here relates to alcohol. Perhaps its because the old-guard rural people didn’t have the electronic distractions that have come along in the past 10-years. As a result, people drank probably more than in cities, and if you know the right folks, you can still find damn good ‘shine out here in the woods.
Alcoholism is not a strictly American problem, though. It shows up in rural areas in all parts of the world including Australia where rural suicide has become a major issue of late.
It’s always a shame to waste people who can actually coax food out of dirt – always an amazing thing to take part in – but the areas where crops have been bad, perhaps accentuated by strong-arming banksters and weather patterns changing, can all lead to higher stress. Add tensions in the family (not everyone likes the Outback, ours or theirs) and the combination of tensions can lead to disastrous outcomes.
One area where rural crime is more likely to increase in future years will be in evolving power struggles between local people, who view their ownership of land as absolute, and the city-dwelling legal-slingers who continuously pass “legislation” – which spawns enforcement – because rural people are ridiculously under-represented in government at all but the county levels on down.
You see this is state and federal politics all the time: And in fact, there’s a situation brewing up in Alaska right now where EPA has resorted to using SWAT teams to collect water samples because the rural folks up there aren’t exactly thrilled with Big Brotherism.
In military lingo, this is the kind of low-intensity conflict that is likely to persist into the future. We’ve done some mapping of possible outcomes and it comes down to three main tracks:
1., Rural people can just wait around for the system to collapse of its own weight at which time cities will become unsupportable and everyone who isn’t rural and productive could die off. It’s a popular theme in television shows like “Revolution.”
2. The more prominent track is that through Agenda 21 and other thinly veiled land-grabs, more and more rural land, ostensibly “owned by the public” will be put “off-limits” so public land is ever less public and then becomes accessible only to the freaking power-elites who pass confiscatory laws in their own self-interest.
The winning strategy here is to get some rural land, while you can, find some rural work to do, which the Internet has made really easy, and then sit back and watch as # and #2 duke it out, with many good legal points to be made including “man’s home is his castle” and the “historic under-representation of rural interests” which rivals racial discrimination in many ways. The term Okey isn’t exactly a compliment.
3. The third choice is to keep up an income, keep to yourself, and don’t invite a bunch of people to come over to your place. Sure as you do that, someone will get lippy about your (whatever trinkets and baubles) and they will come after them as burglars or worse.
Texas law, and in other rural-oriented states, still allow a homeowner to protect their property and the magic words are still “I feared for my life…”
In a Big City with two-minute response times, excessive use of force has a different meaning that in a rural area where 15-minutes is an eternity for both law enforcement and emergency medicine.
It’s all manageable, but how you manage it is the thing. A couple of game cameras along the road, a close working relationship[ with the local game warden to keep poachers away, and pretty soon word gets out…this is not a crime-friendly area. Rural area county judges that I’ve met see far more likely to sentence based on what’s good for the community rather than what slant’s been taken in a big city paper, too.
As a result, you don’t want to get a DUI out here, either.