EDWARDSVILLE, Il (KMOX)-Madison County is seeing a major increase in residential burglaries, and officials say heroin addicts are to blame.
Standing next to the pictures of 19 recently arrested suspects, Sheriff Robert Hertz pointed to a map with 142 green dots marking the locations of residential burglaries reported so far this year. He says at this time last year there had been 80 residential burglaries. The green dots were spread throughout the county.
Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons says, “Drug addicts are preying on our citizens. They are preying on our communities. This has become everyone’s problem.”
Hertz promised to do what he can to stem the tide, “We will do whatever we have to do legally, to make sure a person’s home remains their castle.”
Hertz and Detective Brad Wells urged residents to report any suspicious activity, by calling 9-1-1.
Wells says if someone you don’t know knocks on the door, don’t answer, but let them know someone is inside, “Somehow make some noise, the dog barking, you making some sort of noise or sound.”
Hertz says those stealing for drugs usually don’t want confrontation, “As soon as they realize that somebody’s in the house, more times than not they’re going to get in their car and take off.” But he warned that they are usually high and many times have committed a violent crime in the past.
Gibbons says his office will aggressively prosecute those who use, deal or event just transport heroin. He also encourages anyone who confronts a burglar in their home to call 9-1-1, but also use any means necessary to protect themselves and their family, “I want to assure citizens that their rights will be fully respected. That their right to defend themselves, to arm themselves, is fully respected here in Madison County.” He also encouraged residents to obtain FOID cards so they can legally possess a firearm.
As for the addicts, Hertz said the next time they’re tempted to burglarize a home to feed their habit, they should remember that, “Rehab now is better than jail later.”
And noting that those convicted of burglary can serve a minimum four years in prison, “I’ve got a four-year plan to suggest on how you can get off of heroin. It’s called locked up in jail. It’s cold turkey.”
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