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AIDING & ABETTING

by Rose Madeline Mula

Do you worry about a burglar breaking into your home and stealing your precious possessions? Have you a favorite hiding place for valuables?

No, not the ice cube trays in the freezer. Every self-respecting thief knows that one. There are so many other, very clever ways to conceal your priceless gems, credit cards, laptops, and the money you’re trying to hide from the IRS. Just last week, I read a magazine article that detailed dozens of extremely unlikely possibilities where you can stash your cache — places where a burglar would never dream to look.

Unless, of course, said burglar read the same article.

I’d describe some of these hiding places for you here, but, like the writer of the afore-mentioned magazine piece, I’d be aiding and abetting potential thieves. Not that they can’t find the information for themselves; but they should at least have to work for it.

If all robbers were illiterate, no problem. Unfortunately, however, odds are that your friendly neighborhood thief made it past the first grade and can read and most likely even has computer skills that enable him to log on to Google on his stolen laptop and access not only the magazine article I mentioned but thousands of others on the same subject.

Either that, or he can just wait for the postman to deliver his daily pile of miscellany that is sure to include at least a couple of mail order catalogues — which, in turn, have ads for fake bricks, flower pots with false bottoms, hollow picture frames, faux soup cans, and other items suitable for concealing small treasures.

Oooops! I just helped a burglar somewhere, didn’t I?

But these concerns are relatively minor.

Even more disturbing these days are news articles that fuel the imaginations of terrorists. Often I read things like “Authorities are concerned that Titanic Towers in Metropolis is particularly susceptible to terrorist attack because of its unstable structural design and easy access to its rooftop.” Or, “Five hundred thousand fans are expected to fill XYZ Stadium to capacity for the championship game on Saturday, raising fears that a handful of suicide bombers could cause extensive fatalities.” And I cringe when government officials tell us to go about our business and to storm the shopping malls in droves, but to keep a watchful eye for “suspicious activity.” (I can hear a potential fanatic saying, “Ooooh! Shopping malls! I hadn’t thought about that!”)

I know, I know. The bad guys are aware of our vulnerabilities, but maybe they haven’t considered one or two possibilities. Do we have to provide them with a detailed “To Do” list?

And once we’ve helped terrorists identify potential targets, we go even further: We actually give them recipes for constructing bombs. Honest. I’ve seen them in the daily newspaper. And, again, I’m sure Google is a gateway to a treasure trove of destructive “How-To’s.” I have yet to find a simple, fail-proof recipe for tiramisu on the site, but I bet I’d have no trouble whatsoever researching the exact ingredients and proportions for something that goes BOOM! and wreaks havoc. To be honest, I haven’t checked this out because I’m afraid Big Brother may be monitoring my Internet searches; and the FBI would come and break down my door before I even logged off. Me, a perfectly innocent, mature (okay, old) woman they’d cart off to a high-security jail; but if a wild-eyed young man named Mohammed with a history of violence conducted a similar Internet search, the law would leave him alone. God forbid they should be accused of racial profiling.

I’m also certain that all the ingredients for manufacturing explosive devices are readily available at any hardware store or garden supply center. A young person might need to show ID to purchase cigarettes in America, but he would have no problem whatsoever acquiring everything needed to assemble a horde of weapons of mass destruction. I suppose it’s comforting to know that while some kid could be planning mayhem and multiple murders, at least his lungs are clear, and he won’t be subjecting anyone to second-hand smoke.

What else are we doing to make things easy for the baddies?

I wouldn’t be surprised to find books titled “Terrorism for Dummies” and “Burglary Made Easy” featured on Amazon.com.

Would you check please? I’d do it, but I can’t afford to arouse suspicion. I think I’m under surveillance since I tried to sneak nine items through the Eight Items or Fewer checkout lane at the market last week.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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