DEAR ABBY: I’m a deputy sheriff. Last week, I was in a department store outside my jurisdiction and overheard a conversation between two of the clerks. One of them had her car broken into the night before, and several valuable items and her house key had been stolen. This woman said she didn’t call the police because there was nothing they could do.

I identified myself as a deputy and told her she should contact her police department immediately for the following reasons:

(1) She was a victim of a crime. Her house key was taken by someone who had already demonstrated that he or she was a criminal. If the perpetrator came back and robbed her house, or worse yet, harmed her, the police would have more to go on to solve that crime. (I also advised her to have her locks changed immediately.)

(2) Her car may not have been the only one broken into. If a pattern was developing, the police could increase patrols in her area. But they couldn’t know to do it if the incident went unreported.

(3) In the course of serving search warrants or making other arrests, we often find property that obviously doesn’t belong to the suspect. (After all, who owns multiple TV sets, stereos, DVD players, digital cameras, etc.?) But if nobody reports a theft, we have no way of knowing whose property it is. Without that knowledge, we can’t return property to its rightful owner, nor can we charge the suspect with additional crimes.

(4) Suspects often pawn what they steal. Our detectives regularly check pawn shops for items that have been reported stolen and can recover them for the owner as well as pay a visit to whoever sold them. Many crimes have been solved in this manner.

Please, Abby, urge your readers to report all crimes of which they are victims. Even if it appears the police are taking little action, they are, in fact, doing far more than is readily apparent. – DEPUTY PETER N. SPAGNOLO, PAYETTE, IDAHO

DEAR DEPUTY SPAGNOLO: Your message is important, and I’m printing your letter as written with no editing. Although there is no guarantee that anyone won’t become a crime victim, we do not have to take it in silence. As my third- grade teacher used to say, “The policeman is your friend.” If we do not report a crime when one has been committed, then the bad guys have already won.

DEAR ABBY: I am 22 and the mother of four beautiful children, ages 3 and under. Recently, my husband confessed that he’s had several affairs while I was pregnant with our last daughter. I thought I could get over it, but it’s difficult because he gave me an STD.

He thinks I should forgive him and forget it. We are separated now because of this, and he wants to come home. I keep saying no because he hurt me so badly. I have started divorce proceedings, but some of my family think it’s a mistake. They think because we have four kids that I need to try to work things out with him.

I know I’ll never be able to trust him again or forgive him. Every flare-up is a reminder. What would you do if you were me? – STAY OR LEAVE IN MISSOURI

DEAR STAY OR LEAVE: I’d shelve the divorce for a while and see if intensive marriage counseling could help to overcome your anger and disappointment. Please understand that other couples have made it past a crisis like the one you are experiencing. Your husband made a huge mistake, but he obviously wants to make amends. Only if counseling didn’t work would I end the marriage.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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