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Heroin Addiction Fuels Increase in Burglaries

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March 16, 2012
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Heroin Addiction Fuels Increase in Burglaries

I’ve written about how burglars break into your home, and what they steal once 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 again touches on one of the main factors driving residential intrusion activity: drug addiction. Reports from Maine to Oregon (and many states in between) have referenced the trend, and here’s another article – this time from Santa Cruz, California.

Two teen brothers were arrested in the past week after deputies linked them to at least 14 home burglaries in the San Lorenzo Valley and other parts of the county. Lawrence "Larry" James Smith, 19, and Brandon Chip Smith, 18, were arrested on suspicion of burglary and are being held in lieu of $50,000 bail and $100,000 bail, respectively, according to jail records.

No Surprises in the Items They Stole

Sheriff's Lt. Craig Wilson said the Smith brothers stole jewelry, electronics, heirlooms, music equipment and cash from March to November. The burglaries were mainly in the San Lorenzo Valley but also included homes in Bonny Doon, Soquel and near the city of Watsonville. Wilson said the brothers' motivation to steal and fence items were fueled by their heroin habits. "There's a real possibility that they're responsible for many more burglaries," Wilson said.

The issue of drug addiction is a constant refrain in the crime reports I read – and I read a lot of them. Sentencing hearings often include references to addiction as the cause for a criminal's illegal behavior.

How Police Caught These Two

In the spring, San Lorenzo Valley residents talked to deputies at the Felton Service Center about home burglaries, Wilson said. Deputies found some common themes. There were no cars parked in the driveways of the victims' homes, and the homes often were entered through unlocked back doors, Wilson said. In early November, home surveillance equipment at a burglarized home near Watsonville captured an image of Brandon Smith, Wilson said. A deputy saw the image and recognized Smith, Wilson said. Wilson said deputies have not found many of the items stolen in the burglary because they likely were sold for cash.

And the cash was used to pay for drugs: that is the cycle.

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