Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jun 2014
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2014 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Doug Ireland


Police: Many Thefts Tied to Drugs

Reports of two brazen burglaries in Derry last week have residents 
concerned about what area police say is part of a growing trend in 
Southern New Hampshire.

When Derry police reported Wednesday that residences on East Broadway 
and Birch Street had been broken into while the residents were home, 
there was a surge in responses on social media.

More than 14,000 people read and many responded to a Facebook posting 
about the crimes.

Some expressed concern for their safety, while others offered tips on 
how to keep homes safe. Some recommended buying a gun.

Police in several towns said they have seen an increase in burglaries 
over the last few years.

The majority of the cases involve intruders breaking into homes to 
steal merchandise to sell for drug money, especially heroin and 
Oxycodone, they said.

"I don't believe anyone is breaking into homes to steal to feed their 
families," Derry police Chief Edward Garone said.

It's all about drugs and getting the money to buy them, he said.

Garone declined to speculate on the motives behind the two burglaries 
last week, saying they were still under investigation.

In the first incident Tuesday, the residents of a home at 76 E. 
Broadway told police they heard noises in their kitchen about 8 p.m.

At first, they thought the noise was coming from another apartment, 
so they didn't report it to police until the next morning.

That's when they realized a purse, wallet and tablet were missing. 
They believed someone entered through an unlocked door while they 
were in another room, stole the items and then fled, Derry police 
Capt. Vern Thomas said.

Less than two hours later, Derry police responded to 29 Birch St. 
after receiving a call from an elderly woman.

The woman told police she encountered a man -- dressed in military 
style-clothing and holding a flashlight -- coming out of her bedroom.

When she confronted the stranger and asked what he was doing, the man 
fled. Derry police and a New Hampshire State Police K-9 unit searched 
for the intruder for more than an hour, but could not track him.

Police discovered the man, described as about 6 feet 2 inches tall 
with a thin build, climbed through a window. He fled without stealing 
anything, Thomas said.

Garone said increases in burglaries and drug use are occurring not 
just in Derry, but throughout Southern New Hampshire. He recommends 
residents keep doors and windows locked and install exterior lighting.

But the two recent burglaries unnerved many local residents.

That includes Rep. Brian Chirichiello, R-Derry, who was among the 
many to comment on Facebook. He urged others to buy a gun to protect 

"I said it half-jokingly," Chirichiello said Thursday. "But there is 
some truth to it. People need to protect themselves and defend 
themselves in their home."

He said it's no secret that heroin addiction is a serious problem in 
Southern New Hampshire and that homes are being broken into to steal 
money for drugs.

Chirichiello said he recently picked up a newspaper and saw 
obituaries for two people, ages 31 and 26, who died suddenly with no 
cause given.

"I said to myself, 'They must have passed away because of a heroin 
overdose,"' Chirichiello said. "It's really gotten out of hand."

Heroin a growing problem

Only a decade ago, cocaine use was the most prevalent drug problem in 
the state, Garone said.

Highly addictive heroin and Oxycodone are now the problem, he said, 
and people are stealing and dying to get them.

There were 64 heroin-related deaths in the state last year, according 
to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of people admitted to state treatment programs for heroin 
addiction has risen 90 percent in the last 10 years. The biggest 
increases were in the last two years, the department said.

The rise in heroin-related deaths in New Hampshire is why an 
18-member panel of law enforcement and health care experts at the 
Salem police station in April for a drug addiction roundtable 
discussion led by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

During the discussion, Salem police prosecutor Jason Grosky told of 
how a 15-year-old high school student was caught stealing money from 
her teachers to feed a growing heroin habit.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster called heroin and opiate 
addiction a major problem in the state. Salem police Chief Paul 
Donovan, who also attended the forum, has said his department is 
seeing an increase in drug-related thefts.

"Most of the time, if there is a theft, there is a drug charge that 
goes with it," he told town selectmen in August.

Londonderry police Chief William Hart has said his department has 
seen an increase in burglaries and thefts, saying many were drug related.

Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark said Thursday that his department 
has definitely seen a rise in burglaries fueled by drug addiction.

"Over the last 24 to 36 months, we have seen an increase," Roark 
said. "It's easily related to an opiate and drug addiction problem 
gripping the area right now."

Garone and Roark said the two Derry burglaries last week are unique 
in that the intruder in each case broke in while someone was home. 
The Derry chief said it's too early to say if the two may be related, 
even though both occurred only a short distance from each other.

Most burglars are not brazen enough to break into a home if they know 
the residents are there, the two chiefs said.

"The last thing they want to do is run into someone in their home," Roark said.

Atkinson police Chief Al Brackett said he's yet to see an increase in 
burglaries in his town, but summer tends to be a time when more 
break-ins occur while people are on vacation.

But Brackett said the town has seen its share of heroin overdoses 
this year, with four reported since January. One overdose victim died.

Residents need to take precautions and not leave their homes 
vulnerable to burglars trying to support a drug habit through theft, he said.

"People should be mindful that when you leave doors and windows open, 
you leave an opportunity for them to break in," Brackett said.
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