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Editorial: Stop the burglar-go-round

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It’s a horrific feeling.

You come home from work and sense something is wrong. A couple of steps past the door, you see the place is a mess. There’s a broken window or kicked-in door and major electronics are missing.

The more you search, the worse it gets. Drawers are on the floor, clothes are everywhere, your jewelry is gone and you’re praying they didn’t find your emergency cash or take any personal treasures.

Then there’s a stomach-gnawing fear that the intruder is still in your home.

You’ve been burglarized.

You’ve been violated.

Some criminal has made your home, and your belongings, his or hers. And it’s probably not the burglar’s first rodeo in someone else’s arena.

In fact, according to a Journal story last week, several local burglars have been charged with the crime more than 20 times. Some return to burglary after an arrest while out on bond awaiting trial.

How does the justice system gain control over what may be a relatively small number of repeat offenders?

One answer could be right under Bernalillo County’s nose – actually, under its calf.

The county has been expanding its Community Custody Program, in which it uses ankle monitors instead of lockup to supervise some convicted or pre-trial inmates. The monitors contain GPS devices that show where the person is at all times.

Why not require the use of a monitor as a condition of bond or other pre-trial release, especially when a suspect has previous charges?

Like Kevin Avery, who was booked into jail April 24 on residential burglary charges. At the time, he was facing two felony theft cases. Police say Avery, who is 26 years old, has been booked into jail at least 10 times and been connected with 20 burglaries.

No, burglary is not a violent crime – but it could certainly lead to one if the thief is caught in the act. And even without violence, it definitely violates the victim’s privacy and peace of mind.

Just ask anyone who has come home to see their castle turned upside down. Bottom line: Police, prosecutors and the courts need to do a better job of protecting the public from serial burglars.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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