Drug Addiction Behind Spike in Burglaries

Posted by , , at 5:39 pm

I’ve written about how burglars break into your home, and what they steal when they’re inside. I’ve posted crime stats from across the US, and even touched on the causes of increased crime that authorities have identified. Today’s blog covers one of the main reasons for residential intrusion: drug addiction. Two recent news reports from opposite sides of the country illustrate the point – and should be viewed as cautionary tales. The first report comes from northern New England, in The Great State of Maine.

A jump in robberies and burglaries statewide can be traced to increased demand for addictive drugs and the money to buy them, say public safety officials. Overall, crime in Maine increased 3.6 percent last year from 2009, according to state figures released Wednesday. “Even though Maine continues to be one of the safest states in the country, the increases in robbery, burglary and theft are all a result of drugs,” said Public Safety Commissioner John Morris.

Where the Crimes Increased

Cumberland County (Maine) Sheriff Kevin Joyce said rural areas are having the same problems with crime related to drug addiction that urban areas have had. Burglaries increased 33 percent from 2008 to 2010 in the areas covered by the sheriff’s department. “I would say I’m seeing more burglaries where people are not necessarily going in for the TV or stereo system, but bypassing that and going direct to the medicine cabinet,” Joyce said.

Just as Bad in the City

“In late 2009 and early 2010 we struggled with residential burglaries because of cocaine and addicts breaking into vehicles and residences,” said Portland Police Chief James Craig. “People who are ill with addiction are breaking into homes to get to the medicine cabinet,” said Public Safety Commissioner John Morris, who wants to convene a working group of doctors, pharmacists, police, educators and treatment professionals to find a solution.

And now this report from Jackson County, Oregon, where a pharmacy was burglarized and drugs were stolen:

Police are searching for suspects who used a brick to break in through a back door of the Gold Hill Pharmacy to steal nearly $10,000 worth of pills early Tuesday morning, authorities said. After a short foot pursuit, a suspect was caught by police with 12 bottles of oxycodone and oxycontin, worth about $6,000 in wholesale value to the pharmacy. Two other suspects were able to get away from the scene on foot. Pharmacy owner Alex Frum said “These pills would sell for four or five times, at least, what we paid for them.” Frum said about three-quarters of the stolen pills were recovered, but they all became useless to the pharmacy after leaving the building.

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