“Don’t think because you live in a nice neighborhood, you are exempt from crime. Be aware of your surroundings, start a neighborhood watch, and don’t make yourself a target.” Cpl. Thomas Stubbs, of the Baton Rouge Police Department
Terri Devore is on edge in her own home.
Her anxiety began almost a month ago when two armed robbers fired shots at her 52-year-old husband and her 27-year-old son.
Neither were hit but the six to eight rounds struck Devore’s Shenandoah home, shattering a kitchen window and puncturing chairs in her living room.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested the armed duo and booked them into Parish Prison where they remain.
Devore, however, is still scared and said she is looking at ways to make herself feel more secure.
The mother of two said she’s considering upgrading her home security system to include cameras. She said she’s also contemplating whether to apply for a concealed handgun permit.
“I know that sounds drastic,” she said. “But I just don’t feel safe anymore.”
Devore is not alone, according to area security company owners and a local firearms expert who say their businesses are thriving.
“Crime drives our business,” said Ronnie Whiddon, vice president of Custom Security Systems. “And, we are definitely busy.”
Whiddon, who has been in the security business in Baton Rouge for almost 30 years, said demand spiked after Hurricane Katrina and hasn’t gone down since.
He attributes the boost in business not only to an increase in crime and population but to a different type of customer, one who is accustomed to living in a high-crime area and being armed with a high-tech security system.
Those high-tech security systems, he said, almost always include cameras, an item that has become increasingly popular for both business and residential customers.
“There was a time when we only sold a few of them,” he said. “Now, they are a full-time business for us.”
Ted Swan, owner of Heavenly Home Security in Baton Rouge, said cameras have become more attractive because they are more affordable and more sophisticated.
Some people can access their camera’s images in real time via their computers and phones, Swan said. Many of those images, he added, are good enough to forward to law enforcement, which on several occasions has used them to make arrests.
Surveillance video from a residential security system led to the April 12 arrest of the men who shot at Devore’s husband and son, court records show.
The video showed Eric Robertson, 18, 6874 Hanks Drive, and Demontrey Fisher, 20, 1612 Cedar Lake Lane, leaving the scene of a nearby armed robbery in a dark-colored two-door car, an affidavit of probable cause says. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies tracked down the car, and shorty after, found and arrested Robertson and Fisher.
A day earlier in St. Helena Parish, a homeowner’s security cameras caught three people breaking into a house, authorities said. That video led to the recovery of tens of thousands of dollars in stolen property and the arrest of five people implicated in a string of burglaries in Livingston and St. Helena parishes.
Whiddon said he’s heard hundreds of stories about crimes being solved because of a “well-placed camera.”
“It happens all the time,” he said. “It happens so often we now feel like we have a hand in prosecuting people.”
Cpl. Thomas Stubbs, of the Baton Rouge Police Department, said surveillance video is always helpful and is something detectives are routinely asked for in court.
Devore said she is looking at adding cameras to her home security system because she wants to be able to see who breaks into her home if it is burglarized.
“It may not stop what happens,” she said. “But, it may help find the people who did it.”
In addition to high-tech security systems, people are arming themselves with guns to try and protect themselves, their families and their property from criminals, an area gun expert said.
Wade Duty, owner of Precision Firearms & Indoor Range, said the number of people interested in purchasing a weapon or obtaining a concealed handgun permit started to increase two years ago when Alexandra Engler, 42, was killed and her 9-year-old daughter, Ariana, was wounded in a home invasion.
He said that the interest hasn’t waned since then.
Duty said he teaches four to five concealed carry classes a month and that he’s booked into July. A third of his classes are women, the majority of whom are young professionals, he said.
Recently, Duty said, he’s seen an increase in the number of middle-aged minority couples who say they want a weapon because they are tired of feeling like prisoners in their own homes.
Devore said that’s exactly why she’s looking into getting a weapon of her own and possibly a concealed handgun permit.
“I don’t want to be like an outlaw,” she said. “I just want to be able to protect myself.”
Duty said that although at least one person in almost every one of his classes has a story about how a gun has either helped protect them or a friend, he emphasizes that a weapon “neither authorizes you or obligates you to remain in a situation where you can be harmed.”
“If you can withdraw without being hurt, then do so,” he said.
Stubbs said while high-tech security systems and guns are valid defenses against crime, the best and the cheapest is self-awareness.
“Don’t think because you live in a nice neighborhood, you are exempt from crime,” Stubbs said. “Be aware of your surroundings, start a neighborhood watch, and don’t make yourself a target.”