Archive for Monday, July 31, 2006

Repeat burglars steal victims’ peace of mind

July 31, 2006

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John Welborn stands at the front gate of his rural Jefferson County home, which has been burglarized 13 times since the late 1970s. Prosecutors say his home was the first to be burglarized in a four-county 2005 crime spree that included the killing of Clarence David Boose, 77, of rural Lecompton. Welborn says he has yet to see any restitution ordered for previous burglaries, and doesn't expect any for the latest incident.

John Welborn stands at the front gate of his rural Jefferson County home, which has been burglarized 13 times since the late 1970s. Prosecutors say his home was the first to be burglarized in a four-county 2005 crime spree that included the killing of Clarence David Boose, 77, of rural Lecompton. Welborn says he has yet to see any restitution ordered for previous burglaries, and doesn't expect any for the latest incident.

Every time John Welborn and his wife return to their home at the end of a dead-end gravel road in rural Jefferson County, they have the same thought:

"Is our door going to be kicked open?"

They've been burglarized 13 times since the late 1970s: seven home burglaries, four outbuilding burglaries and two vehicle burglaries.

The last time, the Welborns' home was trashed - dresser drawers thrown across the room, pottery raked from a shelf and food tossed from the refrigerator across to the living room.

Burglary affects a fairly small portion of the community every year; there are about seven for every 1,000 residents in Douglas County, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. But the effects on the victims can be life-rattling.

"Some people put in security systems. Some people buy guns. That relaxing sense of security is gone," said Dolores Moseley, a victim-witness advocate for Douglas County Dist. Atty. Charles Branson. "They feel they've been violated. : Some people have counseling. Some people have nightmares."

A serious matter

The Welborns' most recent burglary, in spring 2005, was the first in what prosecutors allege was a four-county burglary spree that led to the killing of 77-year-old Clarence David Boose in rural Lecompton. So far one man, Leonard W. Price, has been charged in Boose's death.

Welborn said that given what he's seen, the system doesn't take burglary as seriously as it should.

"These people are being allowed to operate in society even though they've been in my home or your home," he said.

Earlier this year, a bill died in the Senate that would have sent repeat burglars to prison earlier - for example, requiring prison instead of probation for second-time residential burglars. But the bill likely would have required the construction of new prison space because of an increased number of inmates.

Lt. Doug Woods, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said burglaries in the county typically were committed by people from other counties. They're looking for anything that can be loaded into a car quickly and converted to cash - electronics, DVD players, guns, jewelry.

"Typically, residential burglars aren't in the house more than 15, 20 minutes," he said.

In general, burglaries are more common in areas that are more densely populated. In 2004, the nationwide rate for burglaries in rural areas was 28 of every 1,000 households, compared with 42 per 1,000 households for urban areas.

But Woods said one of the problems his office found is that people in the county often seem reluctant to report suspicious activity. By the time they think to call the sheriff about that suspicious car down the road, it's too late to catch anyone.

Restitution not guaranteed

Welborn said he was glad to hear that the people linked to the recent burglary spree - Topeka residents Price and Allen D. Smith - had been sentenced to prison in one of the burglaries, and that Price had been charged with murder in the Lecompton killing.








Crime-fighting tips

Here are some tips from police on how to prevent home burglaries: ¢ Keep valuables hidden. ¢ Lock doors and windows. ¢ Consider leaving a TV or radio on during the day to deter a would-be burglar. ¢ Report suspicious activity. ¢ Keep your home well lit at night. ¢ Use common sense. The Lawrence Police Department offers more crime prevention tips online at www.lawrencepolice.org.

But he said another frustration was that he's unlikely to be reimbursed for the more than $5,000 worth of items stolen from his home.

In three prior burglaries at his home, he's received an order for restitution, but it's never been paid.

In Douglas County, the court trustee's office is designated to collect money from criminals who owe restitution, but many counties in Kansas don't have that system in place. Often, the role of "collection agent" falls to prosecutors or probation officers who have higher priorities.

"A lot of (probation officers) have an ungodly case load to begin with. They just maintain their meetings and make sure people aren't violating the law," said Kyle Smith, a spokesman for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. "I think there are some problems with that throughout the state."

Welborn said he's been told to get an attack dog, but he said a determined burglar might just kill the animal. He has an alarm system, but on the day of the last burglary he forgot to turn it on.

People ask him why he and his wife don't move. He says that's the wrong question.

"Why should we have to move because of the thieves?" he said.

Comments

audvisartist 8 years, 11 months ago

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BrianR 8 years, 11 months ago

Like I said earlier, install cams, find out what they look like and hunt them like an animal.

BrianR 8 years, 11 months ago

Install cameras, find out who your perps are and go hunting.

spammer89 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't think they need a warning sign for an electric fence in the rural area. Just don't whiz on an electric fence.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 11 months ago

Marion, consensus appears to be that I misread your post's intent. My apologies to you, sir.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 11 months ago

marion get a better fence and let the sheppard run lose dogs should not be on chains like that just mean.

allmine 8 years, 11 months ago

Hey all attack the system not the victim. And to get a big dog only means next time they could come home and find a dead dog in the house yeah I am sure all of you would be thrilled with that. Move?? you gonna pay for them to move? not so be quiet IT IS THE SYSTEM.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 11 months ago

A simple answer to your burglary problem:

Put a liquor cabinet in a prominent location.

Buy a number of bottles of top-shelf Vodkas and Gins.

Empty the bottles.

Refill them with wood alcohol and place them nicely in your fancy liquor cabinet.

With any luck, they'll steal your booze and drink the wood alcohol. Vigilante justice, baby!

cutny 8 years, 11 months ago

Marion, Thanks for telling me more than I could have ever possibly wanted/needed to know about you and your dogs. Please post 30 more times today. PS, that's MORION, to you

Jeff Goodrick 8 years, 11 months ago

When they got us they cut through a steel gate, shot one of the dogs and loaded a moving van in the daylight, the nearest house is a 1/2 mile away. The police are about 30 to 40 min. away out here in the county.

Sigmund 8 years, 11 months ago

There is nothing irresponsible about paying taxes for cops and prosecuters and expecting them to do their jobs. Maybe the responsible thing is to vote the lazy or incompetent DA's and Police Chiefs out of office. It would be irresponsible not to.

Confrontation 8 years, 11 months ago

Maybe it's someone who isn't a "catbacker." Go Jayhawks!

I'm kidding on this one! ACG-I've often wondered the same thing about the legality of an electric fence. Maybe they're okay in rural areas, as long as warning signs are posted. I don't know for sure, though.

Calliope877 8 years, 11 months ago

Marion,

I love your dog!

My parents are currently looking for a new guard dog. They live out in rural Jefferson County as well, and they've never had a break in because they alway have a large dog in the yard.

matahari 8 years, 11 months ago

when the cops can't stop em it's YOUR resposibility to insure that you don't get robbed again, as (after the fact) hunting down perps is dangerous (and illegal) When are americans going to start taking responsibility for themselves?

mom_of_three 8 years, 11 months ago

patcatbacker,

It seems like whatever you do isn't enough to protect your property. And I understand about the dog thing. We had a lab who was very protective of the property, but he couldn't tell the difference between family-friend and foe.
We had an australian shepherd once who was as sweet as can be, unless you were a stranger who came near us kids. She wouldn't let the horse shoe-er out of his truck one day.
But Kansas needs to have tougher laws for career criminals.
Stay safe

cutny 8 years, 11 months ago

Boy Marion, Your dog sure looks happy to be on that chain. What a luxury it must be for that dog to stay chained up like that protecting all of your stuff which you basically admitted wasn't worth stealing. You're quite the animal lover I'm sure, Marion. Thanks, yer dog

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 11 months ago

So, Marion, let me be sure I get what you're saying--it's their fault? They're asking for it? That the victims need to learn their lesson?

Regardless of how well or poorly this family is handling their home security, let us remember that the individuals who are burglarizing them are the criminals. These folks are victims. [shakes head and walks away]

Kristen Murphy 8 years, 11 months ago

Marion - when you live in the country having all the secruity in the world isn't going to protect your house. You may have the best deadbolt locks, the meanest dogs, but that isn't going to stop someone who's a professional from breaking in. I'm sure that guy has thought of different ways to protect his house, but in the country, having an alarm isn't going to scare them away when it takes a lot longer for the police to get there.

BrianR 8 years, 11 months ago

Two years ago someone stole the CD player out of my truck right under the motion sensor lights. The lights probably helped them greatly. Wouldn't want someone to break a nail or stub a toe.

Our lights, and the new lights at the house across the street, are pretty sensitive and are occasionally set off by passing cars (and mountain lions) so the neighborhood gets lit up in a big hurry.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 11 months ago

Part of the problem has to be the fact that Jefferson County has had idiots and political posers operating as the chief prosecuting attorney for much of the last 10 years. They need law enforcement at all levels to get more serious and competnet, then the volume level of this problem will dial down a bit.

Lest it be forgotten, of course, this is yet another benefit of the "progress" and "development" that is taking place in KCK & Lawrence. Ain't it grand?

Moderateguy 8 years, 11 months ago

Here is an opportunity for Kansas to be a leader. Build large, cheap, unpleasant prisons. Keep the prisoners there for the duration of their sentence. No cable television. No exercise equipment, except for turning big rocks into little rocks. Bring back the chain gangs. Build a reputation for no B.S. for repeat offenders. The career criminals will choose greener pastures and leave our state. The crime rate will plummet. I know it will raise my taxes. I don't really care.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 11 months ago

enforcer I do not know the story of your dog just that it is a pit bull, in this county and city that is a life sentence my oldest stepson had one that got out not mean did nothing wrong but he never did get it back not allowed here so I do understand a little. As for security I have known people with all the high tech securty and still got broken in to so I do not see how the lectures about buy a security system is worth a hoot. Why can't people just say wow that to bad and we need to do something about the courts instead of attack the vivtim?

matahari 8 years, 11 months ago

well, sounds like they need to lock up their chit tighter, sell it all, leave someone at home all the time, get better protection or MOVE! Bitching has never solved any problem, and eveyrone is aware that this is an issue..bob , must you take up sooo much space in your postings? When you leave someone else to resolve YOUR problems, you must deal with the consequenses of uninformed or unattainable resolves...get out , or stop bitching, it's (evidentally) a problem that the law enforcement of the area is not helping in resolve..so sit there and lose everything...and bitch. After all, you could always wait, once again, until someone gets hurt, try and sue, and have your $$ bound up for years in a courtroom, aww, the american way, dontcha just love it? A friend of mine used to comment "they must have wanted/needed it much worse that you did"

Sigmund 8 years, 11 months ago

No. It is NOT legal to boobytrap your property in Kansas and I believe it is illegal in all 50 states. Tons of public policy reasons why, the most persuasive being the risk of harm to people who legally enter your property; police, fire, emergency medical etc. We live in an advanced civilized modern society afterall. We pay the government to protect us, no need to get medieval. Much like public education this is another case where more tax dollars collected does not equal increased quality of service provided.

In fact a theif can sue and receive damages if it is harmed by such a device on your property. What position a court would have in the case of a theif who was electrocuted by "that darn shorted out color TV in the basement" I have no idea.

patcatbacker 8 years, 11 months ago

Just to clarify some things. I'm John's wife and we have made repeated changes in our lives because of these thefts. We do have motion sensing lights on our home and every outbuilding; not much help since the only thing ever taken at night was a vehicle. These people come in the daytime while we are at work. We do have dogs, they just aren't vicious. We have small grandchildren and many friends and family that visit us often to swim or fish or just hang out; I would never want someone to be hurt by a vicious dog. You will see in the picture that John is leaning on one of the gates across one of the entrances to our place. We have an alarm system that is very loud -- the fact that it can take 15 or 20 minutes for law enforcement to get to the house cuts down on the effectiveness. We love our home, it has been in John's family for years-- we have what is left after Perry Lake went in. Should we have to give up our place because others have no respect for the law? We just want people to realize that if there is no consequence for thieves, they will continue to steal and probably branch on to other things; including murder.

DeeK 8 years, 11 months ago

Dear Wilbur, however I do commend you in trying to understand what Marion is saying, I regret to inform you that you have failed. He never said it was there fault in fact he stated that he felt sorry for them, nor did he ever state that "They're asking for it". As for his comment referring to the lesson being learned, no where in his statement did he say "the victims NEED to learn their lesson", he only hoped that they would learn something form the previous incidents, he even gave several good sugjestions.

A leson that could possibly be learned from this is that we cannot always rely on somone eles to be responsible for our safty, ie the police, ones self should take the propper steps to protect against these criminals that are out there. Your personal safty is your Resposibility!

acg 8 years, 11 months ago

This is awful. I feel horrible for these people. They have done nothing wrong and shouldn't feel like they are contributing factors in this at all. I know a family that lives in the country that has been robbed several times (of every single thing of value). It takes 30 minutes for anyone to respond to an alarm at their house and by that time, the thieves have cleaned them out. I'm sure it's probably the same group of losers, too.

patcatbacker, I'm sorry this keeps happening to you. You can get a nice, big dog, though, that will protect your family and it doesn't have to be vicious. There are some great protection breeds out there that will be totally safe with your kids and grandkids. Or you could try a large mutt from the pound. I've found that mutts I've rescued have been extremely protective of me and mine. Just a thought.

Is it legal to electrify one's property with a gadget that you can turn on when you leave that will shock the holy bejeezus out of anyone that tries to break into your house? Lawyers? Cops? I would love to know the answer to that.

Sigmund 8 years, 11 months ago

"Welborn said that given what he's seen, the system doesn't take burglary as seriously as it should." Too true. Sadly LEO's, and to a larger extent DA's, more often than not take the position that they are too busy to be bothered with stolen "things" and that the victim of a property crime should have been insured, if not too bad.

The problem, as the article pointed out, is that people who steal from houses that are empty with little concern for being caught and convicted may be emboldened to steal from an occupied house using threat or actual violence. If Leonard W. Price killed David Boose it wouldn't be the first time a burglarer turned to murder, rape or both. People who commit burglary cannot be counted on to "draw the line" at just stealing things. Catching these criminals, convicting them, and sentencing the repeat offenders to long prison terms may prevent a more violent "personal" crime in the future.

Sure an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So buy, feed, train, your guard dog; buy an expensive alarm system and pay the monthly fees; pay your insurance policies premiums and file your claims which will raise the premiums further; buy a gun to protect yourself (but only if you are trained and willing to use it), but lets not give a pass to those who are suppose to protect both our persons and our property any longer.

cronk 8 years, 11 months ago

It's sad when we let repeat offenders off the hook because we may need to build more jails. The court system will not do enough to make it hard on these people who steal other peoples belongings, if you get busted you get a ticket , go to court they fine you , then you set up a payment plan, then off you go to go and steal more stuff to pay your fine and you can see where this is going. On the other side of the coin some businesses are not harassed if the police recover stolen items in the business and one business is harassed.You can go to the lpd site and view the static's of the stolen property recovered last year and it is in the range of 700 items One business had 3 items recovered in 8 months and they are in the paper front page, and the title read stolen property SEIZED , when in fact the item's in question were recovered with the cooperation from the owner of the business. Just last week the property stolen from the El-Matador in north lawrence was found in the 6th st Pawn shop and no raid on the business no owners homes searched, No Journal World Headlines. I wonder where these other items are being recovered, 700 items that's a lot and only a hand full of second hand sellers and pawn shops, someone's recovery rate is much higher that the business the police have targeted. Why would the police look the other way for the business that has the highest rate of recovery of Stolen items ? The Police would like to hold everyone to a high code of conduct, the problem is they do not hold them selves to the same high code, just look at how many officers have been driving under the influence ect.. and it is covered up.Some people wonder if the tax payers are paying for the chiefs trip to Germany, yea he says he on business. Some people wonder if that is true maybe he's visiting his family ?

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