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Saturday, October 16, 2010

You Seen My Storm Drain?

Scioto County, Ohio (population 76,334) is home to nine pain treatment clinics, a population of 20% below the poverty rate, an unemployment rate of 10.2%, and an average salary for employment at $26,208. (, 2010) Once a bustling home of railways, shoe factories, and steel mills, Portsmouth began a steady decline after 1950 when the city peaked at approximately 37,000 inhabitants.  With worsening statistics, Portsmouth, the county seat, has been making headlines, but much of the news breeds negativity.

Ohio has a crime rate of  #28 and a safety rank of #24, which statistically puts Ohioans squarely in the middle of the 50 states in crime statistics. Still, compared to the rest of the country, Scioto County's cost of living is 23.20% , among the lowest of Ohio's counties and much lower than the U.S. average. ( Naturally, one might think the old Ohio river town might be the perfect place in which to retire. But what about the quality of life in a small town of 20,000 people?

That is a question a retiree must ask. Take theft, for instance. All around the country, many less savory individuals resort to stealing to support their drug habits, to supplement their meager incomes, and even to survive economic depression. People have resorted to stealing for scrap metal: telephone wires, air conditioner coils, and old radiators are just some of the sought-after items. Prices paid for scrap copper and for scrap aluminum have made steady gains. Anything not tied down overnight is liable to disappear

Here is a quick look at property crimes per capita in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Portsmouth Property Crime Rate per Capita:
Burglary Larceny or Theft Car Theft Arson All Property Crime
National Local National Local National Local National Local National Local
Is 3.56 times the National Average Is 2.93 times the National Average Is 1.36 times the National Average Is 0.33 times the National Average Is 2.84 times the National Average
Well, friends, Frank Lewis of the Portsmouth Daily Times ("Grate! Cities recover Storm Drain Covers," October 16) reports Portsmouth and New Boston (neighboring burg) officials have recovered storm drain grates stolen in recent days. It seems Portsmouth had suffered the loss of eight grates while New Boston had lost seven grates for a grand total of $3,000 in scrap value.
“This morning, I got on the phone again and called them (salvage companies) all. I called every scrap yard from here to Maysville to Gallipolis,” New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton said. “Then a small scrap yard on the West Side that John Bevins owns, he called me and said he had all of our stuff. So I called Portsmouth, and we had the Portsmouth Police and the New Boston Police out there, and we got them all back. And I think they’ve got some suspects.” (Frank Lewis, "Grate! Cities recover Storm Drain Covers," Portsmouth Daily Times, October 16)

Hamilton went on to report that the grates would be returned to their proper places ASAP. Still, Portsmouth City Waterworks Director Randy Nickles said he is not sure if the city has recovered all of their grates.

What really bothers me is that the city purchased an ugly eyesore of a metal sculpture many years ago known as "The Blue Cloud," which it displayed proudly on the Roy Rogers Esplanade until some woman tripped over its far left side, fell and sued the city. The infamous Blue Cloud modern art sculpture now resides in a fenced in yard near the new Portsmouth Elementary School. There must have been a humongous amount of metal in that monstrosity, but no one would steal it although it elicited negative comments from citizens every day.

What's next? Manhole covers? Traffic signals? Bridges? When Bruce Weinberg, economist at Ohio State and his collaborators Eric D. Gould of Hebrew University and David Mustard of the University of Georgia examined young males with no more than a high school education—the demographic group that commits the most crime—they found that average wages and unemployment rates were directly linked to the incidence of property crimes. (Michael Moyer, "Will the Recession Spark a Crime Wave?" Scientific American, March 2009) 

The reason for robberies? Even bank robbers are usually addicted. Authorities say the primary reason bank robbers strike is to support addictions — to drugs, alcohol or gambling. "Fifty percent of them have a drug addiction problem," says the FBI's Assistant Director Kenneth Kaiser. "Normally after the robbery, we only recover about 20 percent of the money." 
Adds Major Harold Winsett, who heads Dade County Florida's Criminal Investigations Division, "The money's gone shortly after they leave the bank, because they're spending it on drugs or some other type of habit. They're not savers. They don't take from one (bank), and go deposit it in another."

Whether a professional, an opportunist, or an addict, a robber is most often greedy. Today people of all ages seem to be enamored with money. People sell their bodies, steal, and kill for money.  Many individuals are so obsessed with money that they can think of nothing else. Corporate America? Insurance companies?  Politicians?  Even some churches?  It seems as if everything has its price and everyone wants instant gratification for their money lust.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that the typical narcotic habit costs the user $100 or more a day to maintain, depending on location, availability, and other factors. That's $36,500 per year just to maintain a supply. Since the addict can't do this legally, many support their habit by dealing and stealing. Estimates are that a heroin addict must steal 3 to 5 times the cost of the drug to maintain the habit, or approximately $100,000 a year. (Glen R. Hanson, Peter J. Venturelli, Annette E. Fleckenstein; Drugs and Society; 2005)
That is a load of storm drain covers!

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