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December 26, 1997 Halifax Herald

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On November 8, our home was violated for the second time in fifteen years by a brazen thief, or thieves. The break-in occurred in a well-lite, wide open area.

During the first break-in, the thieves smeared grease over much of the inside walls, lifted a few odds and ends, and took a car parked in the carport. A young man, the son of a well-off professional, was later caught; but because he didn't have in his possession anything from inside the house, he was only charged with car theft. Sentence; 30 days, suspended! No restitution was ordered.

After the first break-in, we didn't take any extra measures to protect our home; the extent of the vandalism indicated that it was the work of wayward kids and, as such, unlikely to happen again. We were wrong. This time, although no vandalism occurred, the break-in has caused us a lot of money to increase the fortification of our home.

Why do these creeps break into private homes? In cases such as ours, it isn't worth it. The only possessions we have, aside from the same type of well-used furniture and appliances found in most homes, are mementos valuable only to us.

Break-ins are very traumatizing to victims. Homes, as can be confirmed by those who have suffered the indignity of having theirs invaded by strangers, never feels the same. There is a feeling of it being soiled. Then questions haunt you: What would have happened if we had been home? Would we have been injured or even killed, or would we have injured or killed one of the thieves?

Heaven help us if the later were the outcome. The bleeding hearts probably would have seen one of us locked up until hell froze over! As most victims know, innocents have very few rights in these matters; itís the poor, under privileged perpetrator who gets the breaks and sympathy.

Surely there must be a way to stop this scum from preying on folks who can least afford to take the expensive measures needed to protect their homes. In our case, in addition to the $500. deducted by the insurance company to replace the merchandise stolen, we've spent close to $1500 to make our home more secure. This kind of unexpected expenditure, when one lives on a fixed income, knocks the hell out of Christmas budgets and plans.

We were told by reliable sources from within the justice system that break-ins are a common occurrence across Canada. I don't think one can take much comfort from the knowledge that the same type of crap, on a regular basis, is suffered by folks across the land. Comfort could be had if elected officials would take the hard decisions needed to reduce substantially unwanted invasions into homes.

From my point of view, home break-ins are right up there in seriousness with murder and should be treated as such. In this province alone, several disabled and elderly people have recently been badly traumatized by break-ins, and in several recorded instances, fatalities have occurred. Victims of these crimes suffer for the rest of their lives the nightmare, while the criminal rarely suffers anything but profit. Do citizens need to live in forts in this great land while the criminal flourishes?

The penalties awaiting criminals convicted of breaking into private homes are minor; small fines, or a few months in the can, or a suspended sentence. Restitution is rarely part of the deal. One can't blame the police for not working their butts off to solve these types of crimes; they are hamstrung by the fact that the justice system coddles these criminals and, by so doing, encourages them to continue with their illegal activities.

If justice is to prevail, criminals who break into homes must receive harsh penalties. Like most Canadians, I am sick to death of the abuse excuse, and other excuses offered up by the bleeding hearts for the anti-social behaviour of criminals. I've met thousands of people from poverty-stricken or abused backgrounds. The vast majority are living above-board lives and haven't descended into a life of crime.

A friend of mine gave this as a suggestion for penalties for home break-ins: First time, a minimum of 2 years; second, a minimum of 5 years; third, life. For those who think otherwise ponder this. In the States, where many jurisdictions have introduced a three-strikes-and-your-out law, crimes of all sorts have dropped dramatically. Even New York City is becoming a safe place to visit again.

In Canada we have gone, over a 40-year period, from a point where one could leave a home unlocked and untended, to a point where even the poor have to take extra measures to protect their few possessions. This is progress? Awareness that real punishment awaits those who break into homes would reduce the occurrence of such events dramatically!

Daniel N. Paul

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