The longer I live and the more people I have known and observed through the years, the more I am amazed how different people can perceive a given, specific situation and how their perceptions vary between what is right and wrong.

At this point, you are probably wondering, "Where on earth is he going with a statement like that?" Well, hang in there, because there is an important point that I want to convey to you by the time you finish reading this article.

First, we will take a look at two words that likely have very different meanings (probably even totally opposite meanings) to most people who read this article. One of the words I'm talking about is "stealing" and the other word is "opportunity." You might very well be thinking that those two words have nothing in common. Most of us see no relationship between those two words and essentially consider them to be opposite in meaning.

Well, believe it or not, there are individuals in our society who do see the following two situations as "opportunities" that they don't want to miss:

* A purse or billfold that is left in the seat of an unlocked car in a parking lot.

* Antiques or other valuable items that can be observed (especially at night inside a well-lit room) through the window of a residence.

If you don't have thick curtains and you want to gain additional insights on the second item above, go for a drive past your house some evening after dark. To gain the maximum benefit from your drive, take a pair of binoculars and pause briefly at the curb outside your house.

When I give educational talks to various civic and social clubs and even various church groups and organizations, I sometimes discuss security. Most educational talks I give are centered on evaluating items and giving their values, identifying and showing examples of reproductions and fakes, etc.

When the subject of security is included in a talk, you would probably be surprised how often I hear people make remarks like, "I had no idea my home was so obviously exposed."

As I reflect on this train of thought, there are probably not very many antiques appraisers who have also spent about 10 years in leading Bible studies at a medium security prison.

When the inmates develop a sense of trustworthiness and sincere caring with a volunteer, they sometimes volunteer amazing things about their past that are especially insightful to an antiques appraiser.

Also, other experiences through the years make one especially aware of how important it is to be security conscious. Several years ago, an elderly couple at our church mentioned to me they had several good pieces of furniture in their old, unoccupied home a few miles outside of town.

I told them that I had a pickup and offered to help them move those items to the large basement in their home in town. We did that.

The front door of their old home had an old beautiful frosted glass with a tall stag deer in the middle.

I suggested that since the old, abandoned house would eventually be torn down, it would be a good idea to salvage that window now as it had a market value of about $200. They wanted to leave it there in the old door, so we did.

About three months later, they shared with me that a neighbor near their farm called and told them somebody had broken into their old home. I rode out with them to look things over.

The beautiful frosted glass in the front door had been smashed to gain entry and the only evidence we could see of whoever did that was a few cigarette butts at the top of the stairway where someone had apparently smoked a few joints and then left.

I was so thankful we had removed the good old furniture pieces just a few months before that happened.

You can save both your insurance man and an antiques appraiser some difficult work if you remove any antiques and collectibles from your house in the country if nobody is living there.

Using common sense security precautions in your home is time well spent.

Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.