The Highlands County Sheriff's Office deserves a lot of credit for doing undercover work to catch thugs who are attacking and robbing Hispanic people in the county. These folks are easy marks for bad guys looking for quick money.
Recently the sheriff's office had an officer dressed as a migrant worker in Avon Park, and sure enough, two men attacked and tried to rob him. They were arrested and charged with the crimes.
In interviews Highlands Today did with local migrant workers, they spoke of living scared to go out at night. They know they are being preyed upon and take precautions.
Usually these men are beaten and have any belongings stolen. This is happening in many parts of the country, since many of these people are here temporarily and don't have bank accounts, therefore they carry lots of cash. Others also targeted are illegal immigrants who are too afraid to say anything.
Sheriff's office Chief Deputy Mark Schrader said they want to prevent all robberies, and it doesn't matter if the victim is here illegally. "We're not immigration and nothing is going to happen to them because of their immigration status," he said. We commend Schrader and the sheriff's office for that point of view.
No one should have to live their life in fear that all that they own will be stolen and face violence because they've been targeted. And anyone who would prey on these hard-working folks is capable of victimizing any of us. We want them off the street and locked up.
It's impossible for most of us to comprehend that kind of fear and dread at going out at night in our communities and neighborhoods, and facing these circumstances. We all need to use common sense, of course, but we should also feel safe living here.
Whenever the most vulnerable people in society are targeted - be it women, children, seniors or migrant workers, or anyone else - we're all in danger. Operations like this one carried out by the sheriff's office will go a long way in lessening the danger, and we hope they continue to catch the bad guys living among us.