Crime really doesn’t pay

So I was standing at the rear entrance to Kuntriset Kitchens & Bath Design examining the damage left behind by what I assumed was a pry bar and sledge hammer. The owner, Mike, explained that the men entered the building by forcing open the two steel back doors which were locked and deadbolted.

I asked, “Wow, how much is it going cost you to get everything fixed?”

“Oh, about three grand, maybe a little more,” said Mike, shaking his head.

“How much did they take?”

“In total I think they took forty dollars,” said Mike.

Kuntriset was only one of four or more places broken into last Friday. In every instance, far more damage was done gaining entry than was taken. At one location nothing was stolen because they’re wasn’t really anything of immediate value. I suppose part of the burglar’s thrill in breaking and entering is the gambler’s game of chance.

I’ve been thinking about it since I began investigating this latest story yesterday. I remember Kevin Begeal breaking into a number of businesses last year at about this same time. His determination to fund a drug habit resulted in him acquiring a few hundred dollars. The damage done to the businesses was in the thousands. He’s serving a dozen years in prison now. Since burglary is a crime – more often than not of the economically desperate – owners won’t ever get any restitution from the perpetrator.

The recent criminal trial involving Jon Elwood and Steve Ohl is an example of how it can go from bad to worse. Businesses are bad enough, all time and no pay, but breaking into a home is an invasion. Not to mention a serious bump up in the number of years you’ll be trying not to drop the soap.

A residential burglary rightly is treated more severely. Imagine a clerk late at night in a building – it’s the company’s money anyway. Stumbling into a drowsy parent at 2 a.m. behind a kitchen counter is on par with messing with a grizzly and her cub.

Ohl and Elwood went into a home that appeared empty for some easy cash and it all went wrong. They ended up attacking a woman inside, sexually assaulting her. In the end their ill-gotten-gains earned them about $40. Ohl is doing 18 years the hard way and Elwood is expected to do about the same, if not more. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but for every dollar those idiots stole, they’ll be doing a year in state prison. Not to mention that their legacy in the community will always be defined by that night.

These recent burglaries really confound me because police suspect the perpetrators have committed others in the area. Last Friday after breaking into four businesses, they nabbed under $400. Police expect it to be two or three men. So after getting back to the hideout (which is probably their mom’s house), these guys get about $120 each. That’s $120 to $200 for committing half a dozen felonies. After the first couple, didn’t they catch on that this really wasn’t paying off?

That’s years of one’s life in state prison for each. My magic ball tells me drugs might be the motive here because what else would it be? Committing a 7 year crime for a few lousy bucks ... it drives me crazy.

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