Police get the credit for being the first to “connect the dots” by recognizing the relationship between increased residential crime and drug use or addiction. The interdependency of one upon the other, if you’ll excuse a terrible pun, only becomes stronger as the stats are analyzed – particularly when it comes to repeat offenders. Today’s post offers a case in point on the connection between burglary and addiction.
A Phillipsburg man who broke into 12 Easton-area homes to fuel an addiction to heroin will serve more than four years in state prison for crimes that he acknowledged were “absolutely repulsive.” James E. Baker, 27, received a 50- to 100-month sentence Friday from Northampton County Judge Leonard Zito after earlier pleading guilty to burglary and theft charges. “Since 2009, Mr. Baker’s life has spiraled out of control, leading to the path of destruction for which we are here today,” said defense attorney Mark Minotti.
And those are words from the defense attorney…
Classic Example: Steal to Feed Habit
For three months ending in February, Baker committed daytime burglaries at three homes in Easton, five in Wilson and four in Palmer County, according to court records. He would usually get in through a window and stole jewelry that he would sell for money to buy drugs, police said.
Apology to Victims
In total, Baker will owe $37,485 in restitution. Several of his victims were in the courtroom and he turned to them to apologize, saying he hopes to pay them back and become “an asset to the community, rather than a nuisance.” “What I’ve done is absolutely repulsive,” said a handcuffed and shackled Baker.
How Police Nabbed Him
Baker was caught after Easton police traced some of the stolen items to JC Jewelry on Northampton Street, where Baker had made sales on at least three occasions, police said. Baker confessed and took investigators to other houses that he had also burglarized. The burglaries were the latest offenses Baker has committed since 2009, said Assistant District Attorney James Augustine, who noted the defendant was under court supervision at the time of his arrest. “He’s been steadily ramping up to this type of crime,” Augustine said.
That point wasn’t lost on [Judge] Zito, who noted a prior record that he said included attempted assault, terroristic threats and theft. “These residences that were broken into were sacrosanct, as are all of our homes,” Zito said. “There is nothing more terrifying to discover than that your home has been invaded, let alone your property taken.”
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