Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


December 6, 2013

Property crimes: Vigilance, dedication vital tools

Cases of home breaking and entry are common throughout southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. A day rarely goes by without local law enforcement agencies getting calls from upset residents who returned home to learn that somebody had broken in and stolen their property. In other instances, 911 centers receive calls from neighbors and passersby reporting a breaking and entry in progress. The crimes can occur in a matter of minutes.

Investigating these crimes are among the many duties officers have to perform, but they work those cases to the best of their ability. Sometimes suspects are people who are known to the homeowners. In other instances, the suspects are strangers who saw an opportunity and took it. Some culprits are brazen enough to strike during the day while residents are away at work. They enter a home, search for valuable belongings such as electronics or guns, and steal as much property as they can carry away quickly.

There are many motives behind these crimes. Sometimes difficult economic times lead to crime. Other people break into homes and businesses to steal property simply because they have no regard to the welfare of others. In this region, the illegal drug trade often fuels burglaries. Addicts desperate to feed their habits will break into residences and stores in search of cash or goods they can sell or trade for drugs. It is sad to say that addicts’ victims are often family and friends. They take advantage of knowing who in their circle has valuable goods. Drugs lead these people to commit acts they had previously considered inconceivable.

Some breaking and entry cases are difficult to solve, but others quickly lead to arrests. This week in McDowell County, an Elkhorn Bottom resident who allegedly entered the home of an Algoma resident and stole more than $100 from him was soon located and arrested by Trooper B.D. Gillespie with the West Virginia State Police Welch Detachment. The suspect was known to the victim.

In another case, detectives with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department recently arrested a suspect in a series of Lashmeet area break ins. The stolen property was returned to its rightful owners. The region’s officers have recovered stolen property more than once in the course of these investigations.

The region is fortunate to have dedicated law enforcement agencies ready to take on difficult cases including breaking and entry. Officers work long hours, and they are often out working cases long after most other people are home and asleep. Criminals work odd hours, and police officers, state troopers and deputies must work the same hours if they want to keep crime under control.

New burglary cases will be reported as soon as others are cleared. The public can help by remaining vigilant, watching their neighbors’ homes and reporting any suspicious activity. Even simple precautions such as making sure doors and windows are locked is a helpful step. Officers cannot see everything going in their communities, so extra eyes and ears are helpful. It is just one way to repay the region’s dedication law enforcement agencies demonstrate while serving and protecting the public.

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