Burglars can get long jail sentences, as several recent stories prove. I’ve read too many sentencing reports where first time offenders (especially juveniles) get what amounts to a slap on the wrist. But the sentences I’m posting on today should cause any burglar think twice about making a habit of breaking into homes. The first one is from one of New York City’s five boroughs.
Staten Island serial burglar Paul Bray, who terrorized the North Shore during a six-week crime spree in 2009, will spend 20 years behind bars. Bray actually could have gotten a lighter sentence — 14 years had he opted to take a plea deal that had initially been offered to him, but instead the chronic burglar decided to roll the dice at trial, where he lost. Prosecutors said he swiped thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry, computers, cash, cameras, electronics and family heirlooms from at least seven homes in New Brighton, Stapleton and Tompkinsville. Bray’s fingerprints or palm prints were found at three locations, a law-enforcement source said. Bray confessed to all the crimes, except the Tottenville heist, at which his fingerprints were found, said the source. Bray previously served two prison stints for burglary and one for criminal mischief.
Longer Jail Time – Drugs Involved
This story comes from Lee County, Florida, and the burglar was busy: so busy, he racked up 97 charges.
Barry Burdette needed prescription pills so badly he ransacked dozens of Lee County homes – accumulating 97 charges to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in a state prison. He looked for anything to pawn or trade for drugs. He started the spree seven months after being released from prison following convictions on dozens of burglaries and thefts. Burdette could have faced 95 years in prison. Because he identified to law enforcement many of the houses he broke into, the state gave him a break. Once he was booked into the Lee County Jail, he began confessing to that burglary and other crimes, reports said. Officers from Cape Coral and deputies from Lee County took him out of jail at his request to show them houses he had burglarized.
Harsh Lesson: Don’t Use a Gun in a Burglary
For our third story we travel to Jonesboro, Georgia, and the longest sentence I have seen related to a burglary. Why the difference? This man was foolish enough to shoot at his pursuers.
A 21-year-old Jonesboro man was sentenced to 45 years in prison for a home burglary. Dennis Touchtone and an accomplice stole several electronics from a home on Sedgewick Drive, but they didn’t get very far. A caller stated that the pair pulled up to the home around noon, and one of them knocked on the front door for five minutes before kicking the door in, according to a Clayton police report. When police arrived, they said they found the back door open, but no one was inside. Meanwhile, other officers spotted the Dodge Stratus and pulled it over. Police said they found a flat screen television, a laptop, a Wii game system and two Blackberry cell phones in the car. Officers detained the accomplice, but Touchstone ran off into the woods, the report said. When an officer chased after him, Touchstone shot at him, the report said. He was eventually captured and charged with aggravated assault and felony obstruction of an officer in addition to burglary. Clayton County police Sgt. Otis Willis announced the conviction, calling it a “plea to youth to learn from others’ mistakes.”
Twenty, thirty, and even forty-five years behind bars for burglary – that’s a long time for a crime that generally yields so little gain for the perpetrator. In two of these cases, the burglars had previous convictions (and had served jail time) for the same crime. Clearly burglary is a tough habit to break, but with only one in five US homes protected by a monitored alarm system, it’s easy to see why these repeat offenders revert to breaking in to people’s homes. If they thought they were going to get caught, they wouldn’t do it.
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