Neighborhood theft reports on the rise
CENTREVILLE — Following the arrests of three suspects accused of breaking into vehicles and removing property from the residences of homeowners in the Centerville community of North Brook, additional complaints continue to be made.
Residents of Queen Anne’s County have alerted to suspicious activity in and around North Brook, Coon Box Road, Dulin Clark Road and Corsica Neck area. Officers with both the Centreville Police Department and Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s are following up on these complaints, advised Lt. Kenneth Rhodes, CPD and Lt. Dale Patrick, sheriff’s office.
The number of thefts from vehicles, as well as thefts in general is increasing, said Patrick.
Patrick said it used to be kids walking around at night taking change, sunglasses, CDs, etc. Now it may be some of those kids who are older with a drug habit, but in his opinion, the dramatic increase is tied to the increased heroin addiction. The three caught in North Brook are just three of many unfortunately, said Patrick.
Interestingly, Patrick said, they were recently told, “they [the would-be thieves] come here ‘because people in the country don’t lock their cars’.”
Stealing from unlocked cars is quick and easy, said Patrick. People leave computers, pocket books with cash and credit cards, jewelry, guns and almost any- thing you can think of in their vehicles.
Thieves are on the look out for easy targets such as these and they will park somewhere and walk around or have someone drop them off — often a girlfriend — who then rides around and while the thief goes through the neighborhood. When they have “scored” enough or someone sees them, they run to a certain location or call their partner to come and pick them up, Patrick concluded.
As was the case with the three arrested at the beginning of February, Patrick noted, the individuals are coming from the western shore, hitting a couple of areas, finding several things of value and then either pawning the items or simply trading for heroin. The northern part of the county suffers from the same problem.
Addressing the recent surge of criminal activity, Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson said, “I have been practicing law as either a public defender or a prosecutor in Queen Anne’s County for over 20 years now. I have seen several different drug trends during the past two decades. At one point crack cocaine was the most serious threat to our community and during that time period heroin was relatively rare. Regardless of whether the drug of choice was crack cocaine or heroin there is one constant — a positive correlation to drug addiction and theft related crimes. Both crack cocaine and heroin addiction fuel an upswing in thefts because the typical addict cannot afford his or her habit, so the addict turns to other avenues to obtain money to purchase their drug of choice. Many robberies, burglaries and thefts in general are for the purpose of obtaining money to purchase illegal drugs.”
“I believe the recent surge in crime is directly related to heroin use,” said Richardson, adding “Unfortunately, our rural community has many residents who often don’t lock vehicles and who have enjoyed a crime free community ... predators from other, more urban communities, are branching out and coming to Queen Anne’s County to steal.”
Richardson also recognizes the struggle local law enforcement faces, the proximity to Baltimore is a difficult problem to overcome. We can eradicate our local drug dealers, but our users can still make a quick drive to Baltimore and obtain cheap heroin which is readily available, concluded Richardson.
“This is all part of the equation and tragic suffering that drug addiction causes in our society,” he said. “We will absolutely prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent of the law to protect our citizens and preserve our quality of life.”
The Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office and Centerville Police Department urge residents to be proactive about deterring theft by not leaving valuables in plain sight and by securing vehicles and outbuildings. Camera systems may not deter, said Patrick, but they may aid in catching the individuals after the fact.
A link to the site www. crimereports.com is on the sheriff’s website, and has been in use for several years, the map can be filtered by date and location. Users can view the map, submit a tip and register a camera.
IMAGES COURTESY OF SHERIFF’S OFFICE