November 7, 2011
Burglary Victims Recount the Impact of the Crime
I post often about crime statistics, how burglars behave, and what we can do to make their lives harder – especially when it comes to deterring and detecting them with wireless interactive home security that does not require a phone line. Much of my material comes from the countless crime reports and online articles I read daily, as well as from my own experience. But recently I have been seeing different kinds of stories, including what it feels like to be a burglar’s victim. So, today’s post will share two of these victims’ accounts – and should give us all reason to consider what we can do to make our homes and neighborhoods safer. Click on the links to read the entire reports: they are worth it.
On Aug. 29, Russel L. Guthrie was sentenced to three years in prison and five years of extended supervision for a home burglary. It's not something that typically merits news coverage. With around 1,000 residential burglaries a year in Madison alone, there's no way we can follow them all through the court system. But for me, Guthrie merited special treatment. That's because the burglary he was sentenced for was at my house.
He entered the back door in the dead of night, while I, my wife and my 8-year-old daughter were asleep. I wrote about the ordeal in a blog post shortly after it happened, describing how my wife heard footsteps, woke me up, and how I flew out of bed, grabbed a knife sharpener with a wooden handle and klonked him on the head as he headed down our driveway. At least one commenter, who likely had never found himself or herself standing outside on New Year's Eve in their underwear confronting a home intruder that might or might not be armed, couldn't believe I didn't hold him for police.
He’s right about that. I have plenty of evidence that proves it’s a bad idea for homeowners to confront burglars.
Serial Burglaries – and the Painful Aftermath
It took about four months for police to catch up with Guthrie after he fled from my home. They got him after he had OD'd on heroin on a south side street. That's when police got the fingerprint that matched the one found on the stolen tequila bottle I recovered. When Guthrie was convicted for the burglary at my house, he was also found guilty for two burglaries he'd committed with a group of other miscreants, who were obviously more motivated than he was. He had hooked up with a theft ring that had committed some 14 burglaries in early 2010.
All's well that ends well, right? Not completely. While Guthrie is out of the picture for now, my near east side neighborhood association has reported an uptick over the summer in home break-ins, which tend to ebb and flow in neighborhoods throughout the city. Those break-ins have generated a lot of concern. And my wife, always a worrier, never quite got over it. She still sometimes lies awake at night listening for footsteps.
A woman whose home was burglarized two weeks before Christmas doesn’t wear jewelry anymore. On Thursday, she told the judge who sentenced the man convicted of breaking into her Glenburn house that the jewelry has been put in storage. “I had a nice collection that I was proud of,” she told the judge. “Most of my pieces were gifts from loving family members with stories attached. It makes me angry to think that one person could make me feel so vulnerable.”
Still Feeling the Effects
Her husband said that nearly nine months later he and his wife are still reeling from the impact the crime has had on them. “To suggest that the impact of these violations is limited to the intrinsic value of those items stolen, although significant, is a gross understatement,” the male victim said at the sentencing hearing for Randall Cressey, of Hampden. “The extended impact of this incident on my wife and me goes well beyond the dollar sign and is felt to this day and will be felt for an indefinite period well into the future.”
It Gets Worse
The couple told the judge that they were forced to move from their Glenburn home and put it on the market after three attempted break-ins closely followed the successful one on Dec. 10. “My family and I were still grieving the loss of our father, who passed only a few months prior to this crime,” the male victim told the judge. “A number of the items — a gold diamond ring, his grandfather’s watch and an inert, decommissioned British grenade brought back from the Second World War were very important to him and, by extension, to us.
In her statement to the court (and the defendant), the female victim said that she expects her “sense of trepidation” will remain. “I’m scanning rooms now, [wondering] has anything changed since the last time I left,” she said. “My sleep patterns are different. Strange sounds warrant investigation. A car that passes too slowly in front of the house bears noticing. Unfamiliar tire tracks in the driveway make us suspicious. The oil delivery man, the meter reader, the mailman, the newspaper delivery person and any number of other workers one might encounter at their home are now subject to scrutiny. “There will always be unanswered questions,” she concluded. “Why us? And, why did you do it?”
We certainly hope the police will keep up their good work in preventing burglaries, and in bringing burglars to justice. The best alarm companies work closely with law enforcement to spread the word about how you can deter burglars from targeting your home in the first place. FrontPoint is at the forefront of this effort, and we back up our recommendations with wireless home alarm systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. Unlike most alarm companies, we specialize in cellular monitoring and interactive services, including advanced video features and home automation – one more reason why we are recognized as the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US. Your police are there to serve and protect, and FrontPoint is right there with them.