A plan to award money to victims of property crime in Douglas County is finally taking shape, thanks to a federal grant, District Attorney Charles Branson said.
People hit by vandals, thieves and burglars will be able to apply for up to $500 in assistance through the Property Crimes Compensation Board, which is expected to be handing out money by the end of April.
“People are very rarely made whole after they’ve been victimized,” Branson said. “This is an effort to try to help that along a little bit.”
Douglas County commissioners will determine how members are appointed to the three-person volunteer compensation board, which will prioritize applications and reimburse out-of-pocket losses to those victims who need the money most.
“What we’re really looking at is trying to help the contractor down the street that’s had his tools stolen out of his vehicle,” Branson said. “So he can get tools to go back to work, and it may be the difference between being employed or unemployed that day.”
Branson has been talking about forming the board for more than a year, but said he was only recently able to move forward with the concept after his office in October was awarded a $43,750 Federal Victims of Crime Act grant to hire a coordinator for the board.
The board’s payments will be funded using a portion of diversion fees coming into the district attorney’s office, and the balance will be maintained as criminals reimburse the money paid out of the fund as part of their restitution in a case.
Branson cautioned the board and its payments are not intended to replace insurance, but designed to help some victims get back on their feet.
“Not only are we trying to hold the defendants accountable, but we’re also trying to put the victims back in a closer place to where they were before they fell victim to the defendant’s actions,” Branson said during an interview in his office.