Burglaries throughout Richland County are at an all time low this year compared to the past 10 years, according to Sheriff Leon Lott.
In a press conference held Thursday at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department headquarters, Lott said that 741 property crimes were reported from Jan. 1 to July 14, the lowest the department has ever had for that length of time.
If that number doubles by the end of the year, it would still be less than the 1,526 burglaries reported in 2005, which was previously the year with the lowest amount of burglaries. The year with the highest amount of burglaries reported was 2010, with 2,565 burglaries.
“We have trained our deputies on how to process a scene, how to get DNA evidence,” Lott said. “Once they get it, it goes through our lab. We process DNA from all crimes, it doesn’t matter how small or minor the crime may seem to be. If we get DNA, we process it.”
Never miss a local story.
Lott said many of the suspects involved in burglaries are addicted to the instant gratification of burglarizing a home and will keep doing it until they get caught.
“Some of it has to be for the thrill of doing it and getting away with it,” Lott said. “A lot of it has got to do with because they are lazy. It’s easy to go steal somebody’s stuff who has worked hard for it and paid the money for it, and they can just go kick a door in and take it.”
Lott attributes the decrease in burglaries to citizen involvement and a group effort from community action teams, the burglary unit and the DNA forensics lab, which was started in 2004.
John Barron, a DNA analyst with the department, said he helped begin the DNA forensics lab. Now, the sheriff’s department is on the cutting edge of DNA investigation.
“Something like a suspect leaving his hat while trying to leave quickly can help us,” Barron said. “We have solved cases because the suspect will leave a Marlboro cigarette butt and the homeowner doesn’t smoke or smokes another brand. DNA has solved a lot of the cases.”
1st Sgt. Don Robinson, who is part of the burglary unit and the criminal investigations division, said he was the victim of a burglary when he was 14 years old.
“I was scared, nervous and upset,” Robinson said. “It impacts your life because you work had and make the money and build up the property that you own and someone comes and takes it.”
Robinson said one of the reasons there has been a decrease in burglaries throughout this year is because of citizens taking an intolerant attitude toward property crime.
“You used to knock on the neighbors’ door and they didn’t want to get involved and that would stalemate us a lot,” Robinson said. “Citizens just do not have the tolerance for it anymore. Now people want to get involved. People want to take care of their neighborhood.”