Drug Addiction Major Factor Behind Burglary

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As burglary statistics inch up (or spike up, in some locales), we’re now seeing a burglary just about every 14 seconds across the US. While other forms of crime are dropping, reports the FBI, the incidence of home intrusion remains stubbornly high. Sure, a weak economy and high unemployment are partially to blame, but it’s become increasingly apparent to crime prevention professionals that drug use and addiction are major contributing factors to residential crime. And from Edwardsville, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, comes this story that demonstrates the connection of burglary with drug addiction.

Madison County [Illinois] officials Thursday warned heroin addicts to get into rehab and stay out of people’s homes. The number of burglary reports in the county to date this year has shot up to 142 from 80 for the same period of last year, a 78 percent increase, and that trend coincides with an alarming increase in the number of heroin arrests, Sheriff Bob Hertz said at a news conference Thursday. There were approximately 62 heroin charges countywide in the Jan. 1-Aug. 31 period last year, compared with about 129 for that same period this year.

Burglars Will Go to Prison

Hertz said at a news conference that both he and the law find residential burglary a particularly irksome crime. “When you kick open a person’s door, you have crossed the line,” he said. Hertz said he plans to continue an ongoing enforcement effort, and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said his office is going to redouble its efforts to see that burglars do prison time.

A Tough Way to Kick an Addiction

Hertz said the minimum sentence for burglary is four years, which he compared to a “cold turkey” way to kick the heroin habit, adding that the addictive power of heroin is strong and the cravings deep. Gibbons said the cravings or the effects of the heroin are such that more people are willing to risk residential burglary, which is a Class 1 felony, punishable to up to 15 years in prison. He said his office would not accept any plea agreements that allow for probation for a burglary charge.

Police Are Out of Patience

“This is devastating to our community. These people will take anything that is not nailed down, they are so desperate” Gibbons said. Hertz said the high price of gold may be feeding into the problem. People who break into homes likely are looking for jewelry that they can convert to cash quickly at a pawnshop or jewelry store.

We know that gold and jewelry in general in general are on the list of the items burglars target first.

Beware Violent Encounters with Intruders

Hertz displayed mug shots of 19 people arrested recently for residential burglary. “They all reside in this building, the Madison County Jail,” he said. Of the 19, 12 have a prior arrest history and a history of crimes against persons, Wells said. He said in residential burglaries, suspects will knock on the door to check whether anyone is home, and if not, the suspects kick in the door, grab valuables, then leave in as little as five minutes. “Of serious concern is that suspects who are addicted to heroin, and under the influence of the drug, may encounter a homeowner inside the home and have a violent encounter,” Wells said.

We also have a good handle on where burglars break in.

What You Can Do

Authorities advised residents to dial 911 if they see a stranger knocking on the door. They advised not to open the door but to try to say something or make a noise to indicate someone is inside. Most burglars will bolt if they notice someone at home. Neighbors should call police immediately if they see a suspicious person knocking on a door, authorities said. People should get any description they can and get a vehicle license plate number if it is safe to do so.

What you want most is for these intruders to move on to the next house – and it’s been shown that the best deterrent to intrusion is a monitored home alarm system – especially one with safer cellular monitoring and smarter interactive features. FrontPoint specializes in these systems: as the leader in wireless home security and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US, that’s our commitment. From Oregon to Texas to Florida to Edwardsville, Illinois, in thousands of cities and towns all across the US and Canada, FrontPoint is on the job. And we just may be your prescription for increasing your security and peace of mind.

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