By: Jordan Mueller
Breaking and entering crimes in St. Johns have been increasing since 2010, reaching a high of 34 incidents in 2012, according to the 2012 St. Johns Public Safety Report.
This number is up from 29 in 2011 and just 16 breaking and entering crimes in 2010.
Patrolman, Chad Pierson said the increase is alarming and that the police force is taking every precaution necessary to reverse the numbers.
“We take this very seriously,” said Pierson. “We take an oath as a police officer where we swore to protect and serve the public, so this is unacceptable.”
St. Johns Director of Public Safety, Michael Madden, said he believes the increase is ultimately due to one individual, which can have a big impact in a small town.
“In a major city or larger city, one individual is easily lost in the larger breaking and entering figures,” said Madden. “But in a small community, that same person can skew all of our statistics on crime.”
This one individual was thought to have committed 25 breaking and entering crimes in St. Johns throughout 2011 and 2012. Madden said once the man was identified, the police force focused solely on him.
“We even brought in a surveillance team to catch this guy,” said Madden. “We started to bird-dog this guy every time he was out. When he moved, we moved.”
The police department finally caught the man after a particular breaking and entering incident.
“The knucklehead tried to pawn the diamond ring he stole at Harr’s Jewelry,” said Madden.
Owner of Harr’s Jewelry, Alan Harr, said it was an upsetting situation, but reminded him to stay vigilant.
“We are always aware of the possibility of crimes now and we do precautionary things each day,” said Harr. “We even have a certain program that we do each morning. We don’t want to be foolish.”
However, this is not the first time Harr’s Jewelry has had to deal with people trying to pawn stolen goods. Jason Harr is a partner at Harr’s Jewelry and said that with the price of gold increasing over the last seven years, this act has become more common.
“We do see some cases where we speculate that people are stealing it,” said Harr. “But the cops downtown say keep buying it and if there is frequent activity, we can build a case from it.”
This individual was ultimately responsible for 74% of breaking and entering crimes in 2012. He was prosecuted in May and received a year in jail as his sentence.
“Even though he got a year, with good conduct, he was out in nine months,” said Madden.
All other breaking and entering crimes accounted for only 26% of the total in 2012. Madden said after the incarceration of that particular individual, the breaking and entering figures should continue to go down.
“Even in comparison to the few months this year, January, February and March, the numbers are down.”
Despite the arrest of the particular individual, the citizens of St. Johns remain on edge. Resident, Corinne Trimbach was recently the victim of a breaking and entering at her apartment complex in town. Trimbach said the events certainly make her more aware.
“It was shocking,” said Trimbach. “You never really think this will happen to you.”
Along with losing a laptop and some DVDs, Trimbach said it cost $108 to fix the damage that was done to the door that the burglar entered through. Trimbach reported the incident to the police but thus far, no arrests were made.
Trimbach said although she is more aware of her surroundings, she is very confident in the police department
“I am more in tune with what’s going on around me now, but I’m probably not as worried as I should be,” said Trimbach. “I know the police here are very good at what they do.”
The police officers said they want the citizens of St. Johns to feel safe, despite the increase in breaking and entering crimes.
“This is our hometown too,” said Pierson. “We will do everything we can to protect it, regardless of what the crime is or who the victim is.”
Madden agreed with Patrolman Pierson and said they are fortunate that there is not much crime that takes place in St. Johns overall, so when it does the officers take it very seriously.
“When crime arises in St. Johns, every single officer takes it personally,” said Madden.