Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cold Crimes and Hot Tools

"At times, it appears thieves concentrate on a certain item
 and this past week that item has been tools."
(Frank Lewis, "Thieves Targeting Tools," Portsmouth Daily Times, April 9 2013)

Article: http://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/view/full_story/22189380/article-Thieves-targeting-tools?

I recently read this lead to a story in my local newspaper. The article is strictly informative. The content is an extensive report of robberies in Scioto County involving the theft of tools complete with specific items stolen and the approximate value of each.

From Lucasville to Portsmouth to West Portsmouth, thieves are targeting tools all over the county. Chainsaws, air compressors, battery chargers, socket sets, circular saws, grinders, wrench sets of all kinds, weed trimmers, power washers -- all of these items and many more have been stolen. According to Lewis, the value of these stolen tools ranged from $40 for a hydraulic jack to a whopping $2,500 for a metal bender.

Since the criminal exchange market for these stolen goods is high, I understand it is important for residents to take special precautions to secure their tools in order to prevent the theft of any more of their valuable tools. And, people also must protect themselves from all the horrors associated with breaking and entering. These crimes are terrible home invasions and dangerous illegal trespasses to gain expensive personal property.

But, the real story of this rash of robberies is untold in the Daily Times report. Buyers of stolen goods -- unscrupulous pawn shops, flea market vendors, and private individuals -- contribute to the theft of these expensive items. These "middle men" buy them to sell quickly and make excessive profits. Tools are highly liquid assets -- cheap and easy for brokers to acquire and just as easy to sell without any strings attached.

Although safeguards are in effect, we all know this activity happens. Yet, so many people, most of whom claim to be honest, are willing to buy a stolen tool in a seedy business deal at a bargain price. They have little or no concern about who may have owned the tool or how the item was acquired.

But, by far, the saddest part of the untold story is that thieves steal a tool to get a "fix." Drug abuse drives high crime rates. Addicts and dependents ruthlessly steal to get their "lifeblood" drug. They sell their stolen items to anyone for almost nothing because they are sick. To them, the exchange of an expensive tool for a few dollars prolongs their equilibrium for another day and keeps them from experiencing the pains of withdrawal.

All of this crime and danger is part of a vicious cycle of feeding drug abuse. Believe me, local crooks don't get rich by stealing tools -- instead, they eventually reap prison, debilitation, and/or death. Believe it or not, I think most criminals know the insanity of their actions but are unable to redirect their steps.

To me, it is crystal clear that in order to end senseless crimes, protect homeowners, and save limbs and lives, we all must put our efforts into stopping drug addiction. The addict will not stop using just because health officials, enforcement, and other well-meaning professionals make passionate pleas for change. Despite the best words of advice, the substance abuser will "follow that insatiable need for the drug" and continue to seek monetary resources by stealing valuables in your house and in mine. That, unfortunately, is how he/she feeds the beast within.

Don't misread me. You must protect yourself and your family from criminals, but before you decide the only justice is to "blow away the burglar," remember that the addict is the kid next door, the relative you have given up on understanding, and the ill person who lives not only in Wayne Hills but also in Indian Hills. If you don't believe that, call me and we can talk at length. This disease has no  boundaries of social status or monetary strata.

Tools? Isn't it ironic that instead of stealing these implements to gain the true value of their ability to help people make an honest living, drug addicts steal them for a moment's pleasure or a little relief. Do you wonder, like me, if anyone ever steals a tool to help him/her build a future instead of dig a grave?

I despise thieves. I hate drug abuse. I also dislike enablers who allow criminal enterprises to choke the lifeblood out of innocents. Until we intervene, rehabilitate, and prevent, tools will keep flying out of local homes with regularity. And, unfortunately, families will split, humans will be reduced to chemically dependent zombies, and too many lives will end needlessly. Think out of the box for just once -- the "tool" is worthless in dollars to a thief; instead, it only represents a pill or a substance.

All of this grief is happening over a few bloody dollars dropped into cold hands uncontrolled by a conscience so someone (You and me?) can get a great "deal" -- in fact, a real steal. The only person who puts great value on what a tool can help accomplish is a builder. Maybe the time has come to become builders of people. No one should have to suffer the crimes of thieves, but all should understand and acknowledge the reason they steal. In Scioto County, thieves steal to keep using. It begins in their own homes and it extends to ours.

(Click to Enlarge.)

Highest Burglary Cities in America (worst ranked first)
  1. Cleveland, Ohio - 2,312.9 burglaries per 100,000 people
  2. Toledo, Ohio - 2,308.6
  3. Columbus, Ohio - 1,970.8
  4. Cincinnati, Ohio - 1,952.7
  5. Memphis, TN - 1,943.7
  6. Detroit, MI - 1,900.1
  7. St. Louis, MO - 1,887.9
  8. Tulsa, OK - 1,816.4
  9. Oklahoma City, OK - 1,731.4
  10. Greensboro, NC - 1,640.9 

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