Thursday, December 8, 2022

After trailhead parking incident, veteran trekker rethinks his outings

john sasso

By Mike Lynch

Albany resident John Sasso,53, is an avid hiker. Bushwhacks, trails, peaks, he’s hiked it. On Saturday, Nov. 26, he got what he described as a “rude awakening.” That morning, he hiked Hurricane Mountain from 9N in Keene. Afterward, he drove to Poke-O-Moonshine to hike the Observer’s Trail off Route 9 in Lewis. When he returned from the second hike, he found his passenger’s side window smashed and an estimated $600 worth of gear missing. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office in Lewis later told him that vehicle break-ins not only occurred at Poke-O-Moonshine that day, but also at trailheads for Hurricane and Baxter in Keene and Belfry Mountain in Moriah. The sheriff’s office could not be reached by the Explorer, but here’s how the day went in Sassos’ own words — edited for clarity and space. 

I could not have foreseen this. I’ve hiked every stretch of the Adirondack Park for over 12 years. I mean, you name it, I’ve been there: south, north, east, west, central. All sorts of hikes and bushwhacks, (and) I’ve never had an incident. And I’ve been to Poke-O-Moonshine. I probably hiked Poke-O-Moonshine more than a dozen times, probably more than 15 times. Same thing with Hurricane. I was totally, totally caught by surprise.

I’m especially surprised that they hit Hurricane. I mean, I can understand them getting Poke-O-Moonshine because the parking area is kind of like set in, so someone driving by is not really going to see these guys going into a vehicle, as opposed to the Hurricane, (which is right off 9N in Keene). So it seems like they were pretty brazen, especially if they were trying to break into vehicles only in the afternoon.  

I think I arrived at the (Poke-O-Moonshine) trailhead around 2:20 p.m. Anyway, I only saw one other person on the trail, a middle-aged gentleman who was on his way down. We chatted a little bit. When I got back to the trailhead, which according to a timestamp on a photo of mine it was around 4:14 p.m. I was the only car in the lot, and I opened my front door and I’m noticing glass or bits of broken glass on the passenger side, the front passenger side. I then noticed that the center compartment was open. Also, there were some things that were taken out. My old gym bag, which I had a few things in, that was taken. Fortunately, my wallet was locked in the glove compartment, so that was safe right there. As I was about to leave I actually noticed that there was a voicemail from the Essex County Sheriff’s department.

I learned several lessons here, and I actually posted this to everyone on that trail conditions Facebook group. Yes, first of all, on any hike I go to, I’m bringing my wallet with me. No. 2 is if I have items with me in the car that have value either I’m gonna leave those at home, or I’m gonna take those along with me. 

The other thing is make sure you also take your house keys with you. I know they’re not going to know where you live and all. But you know, I don’t think you want to get a call and find out.  

It certainly isn’t insignificant, but the thing is, and I told people, I said, ‘I’m putting things into perspective in that, if my wallet had been stolen, which would have included credit cards, driver’s license, I would have been in a much more world of hurt. So, again, putting things in perspective, I kind of got off cheap in a sense.

Photo provided by John Sasso

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Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at


39 Responses

  1. Balian the Cat says:

    Sadly, this thing is not uncommon out west. NP websites alert visitors to the possibility of break-ins at remote trailheads. I have learned that keeping wires/charging cables hidden is wise as the potential to find an iPhone in a car is a big enticement to smash the window. It used to we just locked up the peanut butter and bacon…smh.

  2. JB says:

    Of course I feel badly about what happened to Mr. Sasso, but I don’t think that we should be too surprised by this. The Park sees a much larger transient population every year than most places (transient is a technical term, not a derogatory one), and each year, there are incidents that put everyone in each community on high alert. This year was no exception. …Or, maybe it was exceptional in that incidents seem to be growing more common. I think to reverse the trend, we’d need structural changes in society. But rebranding the Adirondacks — think ecosystems, stewardship, history instead of amusement park — could go a long way as well.

  3. barry regan says:

    Lock things in the trunk just like you do in a city sorry to hear this happen to you especially in my backyard I hope they catch the robbers

  4. Bill Ott says:

    I have read on these pages about New York’s new forest rangers. Now they have some work to do, unless we just expect to give up and give in.

  5. nathan says:

    sadly this does happen on rare occassions, i’ve had things stolen from campsites while out fishing, such as coleman lanterns, tacklebox, coleman stove, even a cooler of food. once even a canoe right off the top of my blazer, i now carry a chain and wrap through handle and connect to trailer hitch when parked now…but sadly they invented battery angle grinders now. Vermin slowly spread everywhere, be watchful. maybe car alarm is now needed in adirondack’s…

  6. Nathan says:

    when will they start hitting parking lots for catalytic converters and pickup tail gates and tail lights???tires and rims?? be aware of low use parking lots such as tahawas trail to mount marcy. i know take pictures of any odd vehicle such as full size cargo vans, box trucks parked or driving lots.

    • Boreas says:

      Good question. DEC in the past has set up temporary cameras in parking lots to catch vandals/thieves. One incident I recall, the camera itself was stolen and discarded along a road! But IIRC, the criminal was eventually indeed caught.

      Nowadays, the technology exists for real-time monitoring and cellular or satellite transmission (where possible) to DEC or other dispatchers. While expensive and not practical for ongoing monitoring, this in addition to increased Ranger patrolling could deter some criminals.

  7. Charlie Stehlin says:

    I am reminded of my road trips to Vermont. I’ve been all over that most wondrous of states….north, south, east, west, and in between; and whenever it is I go you won’t find me unless you’re on a back dirt road. Vermont is generally a rural state. You can look at what appears to be a major road on a map going through this or that community in Vermont, then when you’re on that road you will be surprised to learn that major road is a dirt road with hardly any cars on it. Just amazing!

    Needless to say I have traveled through many rural areas in beautiful Vermont, on long, winding, up and down, lonely dirt roads, where houses are sparsely located. I was surprised to learn, maybe a handful of times, what is mentioned above is not so uncommon in Vermont. Near Ripton, Vermont, is a trail in a beautiful woods which has a parking area and a register where hikers can write what they wish, such as you find at some of the lean-tos in the Adirondack woods, or in hotel rooms. I like reading those registers to see what others have to say, and to admire some of the artwork done by some of your more creative types. While reading this register I came upon some notes where hikers complained about ending their hikes and finding their cars had been broken into. This trail was not exactly in a busy area I’m here to say.

    There was a time I was driving up a lonely road somewhere in Vermont when a car passed me with a middle-aged couple inside. Not long after, that car came back and pulled alongside me who was in my car going over a map. They were curious about my presence in that area, inquired if I was lost, or if I was looking for anything in particular. I was as sincere and as smiley as could be when I told them, “no, I’m just out taking photos and looking for old cemeteries, etc.!” It was then I was learnt that there had been home burglaries in that area, which was out of the way.

    There was another time I was taking photos of an old barn with a stone foundation on another lonely dirt road in the middle of nowhere Vermont, when at once a car pulled up which happened to be the owner. A very nice guy who began to quiz me and, as above, I splained myself. He too told me that there had been burglaries in that area which, as stated above…was thickly grown with woods and hardly settled, just a house here a house there. I was quite surprised upon hearing of these events.

    There had been some few other similar events shared with me by Vermonter’s. It would seem that there is a shift in consciousness in today’s society, which is true to some large extent, but to another…..nothing is really new under the sun. Our history will reveal this. What is new are our abilities to employ, or execute, our wily ways those of us who are so inclined.

    A thing which comes to mind regards this matter! It wasn’t long ago where I saw, on this thread inclusive, much talk about staking signs everywhere which read, “Welcome to the Adirondacks everyone and as many of ya’s as possible!” I recall my response to that: “Be careful what you wish for!” The more people you bring into the Adirondacks the more problems you’re going to have! That’s math! We’re going to have to eventually figure out what we really want to keep focusing on….money or quality of life?

    • JB says:

      Trail registers — the original social media.

      In terms of technology helping to alleviate these types of concerns, I think that Charlie is absolutely right that it is a double-edged sword. For every good use of technologies like internet surveillance or SUVs, there will be many more bad ones. (However, there are conceivably technologies that are benevolent by design.)

      People who live in rural places that have lots of public land tend to have scary stories like Charlie alludes to. At a certain point, it becomes frequent enough that it becomes traumatizing, or at the very least makes people grumpy.

      Where we tend to go wrong is in the assumption that this is all inevitable — that all of this has happened organically. It has not. For example, New York, Vermont, and the National Park Service have each spent hundreds of millions of dollars turning these areas into economic engines via tourism marketing and amenitization, but with little or no thought about making things safe, sustainable, and ethical.

      This is not to demonize tourists; it is calling out problematic and unethical systems. For example, the same people that own businesses catering to tourists are often the very local officials in charge of liaising with agencies in charge of promoting tourism. Meanwhile, inequality grows more severe. Problems like this can remain hidden for long periods of time in rural places in particular — until they reach large enough proportions that they boil over and start affecting the tourist experience in general.

      Just as with an arms race, it has become a vicious cycle. We lose our values not as individuals, but collectively as a society. And of course, the trick is that it is then left to us, as individuals, to find the courage to stand up when the status quo is unethical.

  8. Vanessa B says:

    This blows, I’m sorry this happened to you. I’d be SO MOPEY if my good gear was stolen, would say to the robbers “here you can have the headlights, my goretex has a LOT more value to me.” :(:(

    No victim blaming here, but alas we have heard a lot of stories from other places than the ADKs. Everything goes into the trunk and covered as applicable. My Subaru has a handy cover. No electronics on the dash, no cash, keeping in mind what I’ve been told by authoritative sources that this type of thing is almost always about opportunity.

    Also, lame as it sounds – apparently more modern cars are harder to break into and intimidating due to all of the gps stuff that tracks what happens in the vehicle. Big brother is watching me, but also watching for a-holes who would otherwise target my car.

  9. Jeremy says:

    California allowed smash and grabs coming to rural NY. All good, no penalties with these law makers. You may be next so be prepared unfortunately. I know I am.

  10. Marie says:

    Someone tried to steal my Catalytic converter on a Highway 44 outside of Eustis Florida. It’s a busy road. And I was only gone about an hour on a short hike. Thieves took the wrong part but it still cost me hundreds of dollars in repair. This after over a decade, hiking remote places in Florida. I did get a dash cam with Park mode installed. But I feel a twinge of worry every time I go to a Trail now. We really need to hold accountable the people that buy these things.

  11. A J says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about the theft, it happened to me once, but it was foreseeable. Any police officer will tell you most personal theft is a crime of opportunity. If you leave valuable items in full view in a vehicle, you are placing yourself in a high degree of risk no matter if you are in a city, suburbs, or out in the country.

  12. Mike says:

    I usually keep my car unlocked when running from trailheads because I don’t want someone breaking my window to find my gym bag has old crappy clothes. Not sure why anyone would leave anything valuable in a car at a remote site. I learned this lesson when my window was broken in a rental in California and the window replacement cost 10x more than the crap they took. Don’t get me started on why my insurance company didn’t cover this because I still don’t get it.

  13. Rex says:

    Never leave your house keys and wallet in parked car, or hand it to valet etc. You have your car registration in there and that has your home address.

    So once the person, including one who breaks in, make copy of the key using bar of soap, and notes your home address, there is nothing to stop them from putting your family and assets at risk.

  14. James Malloy says:

    So as a backpacker and canoeist, I have been leaving my vehicle at sketchy parking areas for years, terrified at what I would find when I got back. So far, so good. However, when my wife and I visited the Portland, OR, area this summer, the problem was so bad that some people were simply leaving their window down to minimize damage. So sad.

  15. Trips says:

    So sad to hear. I recently suffered a break in to my car in Brooklyn. They got my pack full of gear , it was only in there for a few hours. Learned to lesson the hard way to take all my valuables out or at least have them in my trunk. Very hard lesson to learn 😔

  16. Guy Gioia says:

    This exact thing happened to me in 2017 in Harriman.
    I found a huge rock in my back seat. They threw it right threw the rear passenger window.
    My wife’s purse was wrapped in a beach blanket “hidden” from view. But they found it and took all the cash. Rifled through the rest of the car.
    We arrived early at the trailhead for doodletown mine and West mountain shelter. There was no cell service there. There was one pickup the parking lot with windows so tinted you couldn’t tell if anyone was inside. I think someone was in there watching and saw her wrap the purse in the beach blanket. Then when we hit the trail. They hit us.
    Because at the end of the day the lot was full.of cars. None others hit.
    We drove to a spot where we had Cell service Called the State Police . We waited an hour and they never showed. We drove home. I am 60 years old and have been hiking in upstate NY since I was 18. I never hag this happen. This world is getting worse!

  17. John sasso says:

    I’m the victim of this crime and after reading comments here and in social media, I thought I’d chime in.
    1. Some have suggested the Rangers should patrol the trailheads. This is impractical. The Rangers are greatly overburdened as it is with their other responsibilities, esp with search n rescues. I worked with Rangers when on a SAR team.

    2. On the general matter of patrols of trailheads by law enforcement, I don’t know how practical this is. In my case and that of a few others, the thieves targeted popular trailheads along Route 9N. Nothing stopped them from hitting vehicles parked in other places, including those of hunters. See a car off to the side – fresh pickings.

    3. Several have stated that valuables should not be left in a car, even a locked car. I don’t know where to begin, as such a statement shows a gross lack of thought. Even if a wallet/purse is locked up in a glove compartment or similar, there’s nothing stopping a determined thief from using a simple crowbar or large screwdriver to jimmy such open. Furthermore, many people leave beyond such in their locked car, esp during travel. A myriad of things. It’s patently clear people should be expected to bring all of these items with them on a hike.

  18. Name says:

    Root cause: meth. Good thing surveillance tech is now cheap, readily available, and simple to use – in a totally hypothetical coordinated sting operation across the valley some unknown future weekend.

  19. From a comment that came in via email: I am sorry to hear that somebody break in to your vechicle after the hiking. I am sure I would feel violation & concern on the future hiking. I live in Southern CA ,and I don’t know exact scene over there. About the wallet, I know the positive factors: not having to carry extra weight, no chance of dropping it on the trail, & inconvenice of bulky item sticking it on your pocket, or worse put it on your backpack & trying to locate it. Given all these factors, I still carry my wallet & car keyes( house keyes) with me. I got lost one time during the hike. I ended up a middle of no where, no cell signal, to reach a city was about 2 miles. The sun was going down. I was on a day hike. I am a male with 2 dogs with me. The only incentive to give me/ us ( dogs) a ride was money. I went from person to person (several peoples). I offered $40.00 to get a ride in 2 miles to my car. My vehicle parking locked up at sunset. Yeah, I would definitely have wallet, car & house keys, & cell phone with me at all times. Again I am a day/ section hiker, yes, I lost cap, sun glasses, a seating cushion, map, & etc… I make sure I securely have it with me, wallet, keyes ( car & house), & cell phone at all times. In my case, I make sure I have them in the same place. In term of having equipments in your vechicle it is hard to say. I live in 2nd floor apt without elevator, it is lots of work to carry back & forth. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope you find a way to work it out so that you can keep on hiking. I wish you well.

  20. Dan says:

    People of good intention worry about this scenario whenever parking at a trailhead, I know I have. The sad fact is there are many desperate, lazy, and bad people out there, and many have found the Adirondacks to be ripe hunting grounds. This problem has plagued national parks for decades. I actually encountered someone trying to break into my vehicle at Sandy Hook (NJ) when I returned from a day of fishing at dusk a few years ago, and this was a fairly high-traffic area patrolled by NPS rangers. The guy was actually pretty bold and confrontational, and did not leave the area until I made clear my ability to defend myself and repel him from the parking lot. This particular miscreant was a late 30’s white male, apparently alone, with the appearance of a homeless bum. He eventually walked off into the woods. If I notice any #vanlife types who give the impression of living out of their vehicle, then I move on to a new location. The fact is many of these people are desperate grifters, who transient around the country and rarely pass up opportunities for petty crime. They’re the same drug-addicted clowns you see holding up signs (“Anything helps”) and hitting up strangers for a “loan” at gas stations. They’re practically impossible to catch, in the way cockroaches and rats cannot be eradicated. There really is no solution, civil society has been going downhill since the 60’s when Johnson introduced “welfare for life” programs; there is no substitute for good morals. Good-intentioned people with poor judgement continue to advocate for “diversity” in the Adirondacks because they cannot tolerate the high percentage of White people living here; do not be surprised when these misguided programs result in more crime and the usual associated social problems. The State should consider setting up paid parking with 24/7 guards, as both a safety and security measure.

  21. Donna Jerdo says:

    My friends and I actually experienced the same sad situation about 5 years ago in Vermont when we hiked Snake Mountain. We came back to the back driver’s side window in my husband’s new truck was smashed. They stole my purse and one of my friend’s purse. I had a very sentimental ring in my purse….I’ve hiked HUNDREDS of peaks….NEVER has this ever happened before…

  22. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Never leave your house keys and wallet in parked car..”

    And remember the kids! Never leave your children alone in a locked car!

  23. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Guy Gioia says: “This world is getting worse!”

    > Nothing has changed Guy! We’ve always been screwy! There’s been theft, burglaries, homicides (parricide, infanticide….), violence against women… you name it, it’s been going on since probably not long after Adam stole a kiss from Eve. We are who we are.

    Have I read some stories! Most of what I read is mid to late 1700’s into the early to mid 1800’s, and much of that is relative to New England, New York, though it does extend further, if not but only because it started further away, ie. Europe. When the first settlers arrived upon America’s shores, they took all of their problems with them; or….their human nature came with them! Nonetheless, life was interesting back in them days (as it is today.) I am of the mind that all we (society) need to know can be found in the literature from back in them days. All else from thereon is just an extension of what was said back then, or, as I say….’nothing is new under the sun.’

    There was a young man down in Nassau, Rensselaer County, NY, who stuck a pitchfork into his dad, killed him outright in the 1840s….. I found that in the Diary of Thomas Smith who is interred in an old plot down that ways, and whose grave I have visited. (Old deceased Thomas must have had some kind of money as his monument is tall.) There has been death by guns and knives and every which way we can devise in our minds, surely ever since not long after the first children were spit out from Eve’s womb, or were planted here by some alien race.

    New York City was a haven for all sorts of criminality in the early to mid 1800’s, seemingly worse than what it is now. But then it was, and still is, that way wherever man goes. If there was a way to deceive, steal, cheat…. you name it, it was found there, and anywhere else where a sizable population existed. Whether it be rural or urban….we’ve had, and still have, our problems, which brings me back to square one, human nature is human nature.

    Maybe to some degree we can say things are worse, and then that could probably, or generally, be tied to an increased population and other things, such as lack of the proper education or decreased funding for education, a disconnect from nature, materialism, lack of morality, ignorance, psychoses…… or all, or some, of those combined, and more, or less. There are so many strings to attach to the way things are today social-wise, and surely through it all a common thread of sorts can be found. If we were to look! But’s who’s looking? We’re too busy fighting wars, fighting each other, looking for ways to secure ourselves by way of wealth or materially……. Geez! We’re a mess!

    All of that said, I have thought of some ‘thing’ for the longest time. It has been said by others, by way of adage, in seeking to justify war….”There’s always been war!” Sure but! My thought on this is, yes, but there’s always been ‘the other’ too. There’s always been people who have sought peace, or spirituality of some sort; people who saw trees and bees as more sacred than, war, money, etc., etc. Yet why is it there seems to be more of the former? In this perspective I have come to the conclusion… “We’re doing something wrong!”

  24. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Mike says: “I usually keep my car unlocked when running from trailheads because I don’t want someone breaking my window to find my gym bag has old crappy clothes.”

    >This I find clever! I mean what’s the difference if your cars are locked or open when you’re parked at a trailhead? Evidently there is a difference, which some people are learning the hard way.

    Not sure why anyone would leave anything valuable in a car at a remote site.

    > Because we’re not taught to think Mike! As is evidenced by so much which takes shape day in day out in our society!

  25. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Dan says: “They’re the same drug-addicted clowns you see holding up signs (“Anything helps”) and hitting up strangers for a “loan” at gas stations.”

    Your statement quite much has a large air of stereotype to it Dan, and reveals a obtuse bent, which is okay in that you have the right to say what you please, but not really okay because there are too many of us who are quite unable to think for themselves and who feed, and sometimes woefully act, upon acquiring such nonsense. It is the same thing as saying that every homeless person who floats a sign in a public square is on drugs! Or every homeless person who floats a sign in a public square is no good, just because they don’t meet a biased standard. Surely you came to this realization after you sent it out and have had regrets after the fact…..or not!

    • JB says:

      Charlie, I think a lot of the “obtuseness” (and frustration) here comes from the fact that we do not maintain a proper separation of concerns between individual choices (agency) and societal problems (structure).

      Probably the most prominent example is that of “structural racism” — we could abstract this to “discrimination”, or “crime”, or any other societal problem. The consensus seems to be that these types of problems which are perpetuated by social institutions exist — and I agree. But we then contradict ourselves by proposing to fix these problems by focusing on individual identity. Rather than saying “structural discrimination, being a structural problem, must be changed by reforming the institutions [the structures] the cause them”, we instead say “let’s solve structural problems by leaving it up to each person to prove their commitment to the cause”.

      So, taking the example of crime, rather than having a discussion about what causes the specific kind of crime at issue (your “human nature” is an admirable attempt at this), we instead say: “oh, crime is about opportunity [structural concerns], but that John Sasso should have been more careful; it is his responsibility to prevent himself being robbed [and that’s the end of it].”.

      This is why I think the general spirit of Dan’s argument is valid. We are not going to make our society safer, more inclusive, or more equitable through symbolic gestures. But, as far as the Adirondacks are concerned, this is essentially all that we are seeing. And I will go one step further: that this sort of approach (buzzwords, hashtags, billboards, etc.) has been most readily adopted by those very institutions that are most culpable and most implicated in the perpetuation of the issues at hand should be alarming for us all.

  26. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Dan says: “Good-intentioned people with poor judgement continue to advocate for “diversity” in the Adirondacks because they cannot tolerate the high percentage of White people living here; do not be surprised when these misguided programs result in more crime and the usual associated social problems.”

    Those “Good-intentioned people with poor judgment” are the same “high percentage of White people!” you reference afterwards Dan, or many of them are anyway. I have been of the mind that it’s money is why the shouting out, “Come one, Come all to the Adirondacks!” Maybe not all of them white people are shouting that out, but most certainly a good chunk of them are, NY State being one of them; and I would even wager it’s those white people who got this ball rolling in the first place. Not that white or any color matters because really, if you look at the history… ignorance knows no bounds, it’s not just a thing you find in people of color, or in a certain race…it is rampant everywhere and it comes in all stripes, rich, poor, black, white. Our social problems, to a very large extent, could probably even be said to be a thing which has its genesis in the ‘White man!’

  27. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “we do not maintain a proper separation of concerns between individual choices (agency) and societal problems (structure).”

    > This statement reveals that we need to direct our attention towards identifying our natures, our obligations, our moral responsibilities. I have nothing down to a science JB, except but for how to get-by on very little and a deep appreciation of the moments (which I am still working on, on a daily basis), and of the natural world which surrounds me. I am a very curious feller and the only thing I can say regards identifying this or that, I do have a very strong sense of right and wrong which leads me to, what I believe is, reasoned judgement.

    While some things just cannot be understood at all, many things should be easily perceived, yet that too often seems to not transpire. Take per example a glacier disappearing in front of our very eyes. A million earthlings will become aware of such an event through solid science and fess up to it, will say, “I know this to be true”; while on the other hand another million will become aware of the same thing and then renounce it outright. The latter, a school we have become very much familiar with during these past few election cycles, only wish to know what they want to see or hear even if the particulars are not actually the case.

    The question generally is, regards many of our woes, “what to do?” whereas it should be, “why do we neglect to properly educate everyone?” When I say ‘educate’ I mean that by way of science, morals, intellectualism, truth….not necessarily in that order. Again, I have none of this down to a science, and I am probably wrong on all of it, but there sure as heck is a big ? mark hovering over my head always. Most certainly that same question was exerted back in the days when the Roman Empire was still erect.

    This I do know! The answers to our problems I do not know! I can only surmise, but I truly do believe they lie within each and every one of us not in a quantity of plastic, or under a roof where at frequent intervals you hear, “Amen” or “Hallelujah.” If religion were the answer to our woes when does that start becoming apparent? In some cases, if not more than some, religion is ‘why’ many of our woes. There’s another whole topic!

    I know what I say above leans towards left-field, but it’s all relative to the topic at hand which I know you agree upon JB. How do I know this? Because when I read the things you write I can see a guided-missile between your lines.

    “rather than having a discussion about what causes the specific kind of crime at issue (your “human nature” is an admirable attempt at this)”

    > Not an attempt as much as an observance, but thank you.

  28. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Dan says: “There really is no solution, civil society has been going downhill since the 60’s when Johnson introduced “welfare for life” programs; there is no substitute for good morals.”

    You’re wrong on this Dan! To a very large degree! Civil society, or the American society as we think we know it, was once what it is not now. The history I’m reading tells a different story. There were them very rare early days when those very few early settlers knew a society that heard no cursing whatsoever in their small communities, no swear words, no drunkenness, etc., and if there was any of that they didn’t put up with it. Morals! The practicing of it was very short-lived in those early days. As the population rose morals started disappearing rather quickly, out the windows they went. There’s more to what we think started on this or that modern date I am here to say, and it all goes back to what keeps cropping up of late in my expressed views….human nature is what it has always been.

    So far as regards ““welfare for life” programs…! This movement, or similar, with the same aim (relief for the poor), began (in this country) in the early 1800’s (1830s or thereabouts) when poverty and crime were a large parcel of the social scene… homelessness too. Thousands of children had to fend for themselves on the streets of NYC due to poverty, and drunk and abusive dad’s (or husband’s.) New York City was where ‘Relief for the poor’ began in this country, and it worked. Children were given a chance at life, were taken off of the streets, taken away from a life of crime…. they found homes, kind people took them in. Also it worked due to benevolence from the state, or taxed programs. Taxing the people was more reliant than depending on people with money (charity) as not everyone with money was generous. This is why they came up with public education also, because the rich weren’t always reliable for helping out (they still aren’t!), for funding education… some were cheapskates. There were publications back then, one of them being “Annual Reports of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor.” There were missions for the poor…..

    I am recently learning all of this and it is the most fascinating history to me! I forget specifics (until I read it again), but what I do know, or what seemingly is apparent …. we’ve had these same problems since way before the 1960s. The glaring difference between those long ago days (where they read by candlelight and kept warm by a fire), is that back then there seemed to be more of a generous disposition towards the poor, or the deaf and dumb, or the ignorant….. That’s because most people were poor back then! Today’s society, as is evidenced, at the very least, by your posture above….. seems to have less feeling or shows less concern and/or kindness towards others, especially those whom are less fortunate. We can see this just by the laws they pass in some states, or communities in this country, which are hostile towards the poor, the less fortunate. We can hear it in the raised voices!

    We’re becoming almost barbaric it seems. Maybe if we were all reduced to the same level, all of us living in poverty….maybe then there’d be more heart, less hate and anger, less irrational attitudes, towards those not like us, or those who don’t fit our wee worldviews, if it is we even have any worldviews! Maybe wars would cease….if we were all crumbled down to the same level!

    • JB says:

      Charlie, on asking “why?” instead of “what to do?”, we could reformulate that as asking “why” so that we can then decide about the “what” — in some cases, we need to identify causes of problems in order to meaningfully address them. By focusing exclusively on our own individual experiences — for example, demonstrations of personal camaraderie in the face of hardship — instead of looking upstream to the causes of that hardship, we dam the river with junk, and the resulting flood submerges any hope of identifying the “why”. (This is sounding awfully similar to you-know-who’s call to “drain the swamp”, doesn’t it? Whoops…)

      As to your points about religion and human nature, the caveat with “why’s” and “what’s” is that in addressing specific causes of crime, for example, we’re not going to get too far if we try to start by answering the ultimate questions of human existence. But while misapplication of religion can be a problem, I’m not sure that there is any problem with religion itself — just as the misapplication of science is not indicative of a problem with science itself. (Speaking of separation of concerns, these are two more that need to be separated.)

      Put differently, religion (using the term loosely) is certainly not the answer to all of our woes, but if we are going to ask the biggest questions, then rationalism is not going to get us anywhere either — except into useless arguments. What this boils down to is leaving room in society for meticulously detailed scientific examination, questions about the most abstract and indescribable, and everything in between.

      For those of us inclined towards looking at the arc of history, it becomes obvious that social institutions are failing in ways that they had not previously. Barbarism is on the rise. But a barbarian is merely someone who lacks the balance needed to become a fully-fledged human being. You probably don’t even need to be a structuralist to see that.

  29. TooFarGone says:

    WOW! Lot’s of folks here whining and not much else. Spoiler Alert: Just don’t be stupid. If someone wants something bad enough they usually get it. That’s why we have insurance anyway, and NYS has full glass coverage so no deductible for broken glass. And I think Boreas is right about dogs; if he just stayed in his car we’d all be safer! Honestly, I’d be more worried if they said “now squeal like a pig.”

  30. nathan says:

    a lidded plastic storage tub, dark green. I have used for years now as a stash container when camping or hiking. any extranious valuables you cannot carry from car. find a empty wooded spot, such as a tree leaning , big rock along road. walk back in a little ways and put tub and toss some leaves over it. go park and hike, come get your stash later. or when camping i put my coleman lantern, ect in tub a ways from camp in bushes, come back from fishing/hiking. go get your gear. i now always carry a security cable and lock when canoeing rivers/lakes and lock to big tree when not used. luckily most thieves dont really carry angle grinders in the woods, just cars.

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