Neigh­bor­hood theft re­ports on the rise

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

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

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