June 14, 2012
Drug Addiction Still Fueling Rise in Burglaries
I recently wrote that burglary statistics remain stubbornly high (and have even spiked, in some locales): we’re now seeing a burglary just about every 14 seconds across the US. Sure, a weak economy and high unemployment are partially to blame, but it has become increasingly apparent to crime prevention professionals that drug use and addiction are major contributing factors to residential crime. And from Strongville, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Cleveland, comes this connection of burglary with addiction.
If you think drug addiction doesn't impact your suburban life much, think again. Police say when someone breaks into your house, it typically isn't the kid down the street looking for a thrill -- it's a drug addict desperate to fuel his habit. "I would say a very large percentage of burglaries are done for drugs," Police Chief Charles Goss said.
Analyzing the Crime
Goss called burglary "a crime of desperation." "Residential burglary really is a desperate act because of the risk involved," he said. "If you're going to be a criminal for profit, there are a lot more safe endeavors than residential burglary." He put home break-ins in the same category as robbery because of the burglar's risk of being hurt or apprehended. In even bolder cases, addicts will enter houses during the night, when residents are at home.
"It's like those cases we had in the north end of town where we caught the guy,” Goss said. "Those people were home when he broke in. The suspect is fortunate he wasn't injured or killed." In those incidents, a Cleveland man was charged in March with entering two houses on South Drive while residents slept. He tried to get into a third house and also broke into two cars, police said.
A 2010 U.S. Department of Justice about the impact of drugs on society cites a 2008 study that found 67.6 percent of male arrestees tested positive for one of 10 drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. In 2002, another survey found that 68 percent of jail inmates were abusing drugs and alcohol, and that 55 percent had used illicit drugs during the month before their offense.
Local Study Confirms Findings
In an informal report made back in the early 1990s, a former Medina County [Ohio] sheriff interviewed a group of inmates serving time for burglary, asking them how they picked the homes they broke into and the easiest ways to get in. He also asked why they broke into homes. All but one had the same answer: To get money for drugs. There were 107 burglaries reported in Strongsville last year, up slightly from 2012, according to the police department's annual report.
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