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"Only" a Property Crime

Marc Fisher, a senior editor at the Washington Post, laments the fact that property crimes, including residential burglary, are not taken seriously.  Resources are not devoted to solving them, and when the perpetrators are caught they are insufficiently punished.  In Fisher's case, solving the crime was particularly easy.  The burglar was so brazen that he used Fisher's son's stolen laptop to post his own picture with some of the stolen items on the son's Facebook page.

In his statement at the sentencing, Knight said that "even though property was taken, no one was harmed."

That was too much for the judge. "This wasn't just a crime against property," he told the burglar. "This was a crime against people. Young men in Mr. Knight's position need to understand that if they make the choices Mr. Knight has made, the consequences will be serious."

That would be heartening, if true. But before the system can start issuing such consequences, everyone from police to prosecutors to judges would have to equate an invasion of someone's home with a violent physical assault. Although one crime leaves visible bruises, those heal. Both kinds of invasions, however, create lasting wounds of a deeper kind: They melt away security and erase trust.

Property crimes are often relatively easy to solve, with the right resources. All we lack is the will to take them seriously.


"The prosecutor didn’t disagree. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lewis offered praise for Knight’s cooperation and thanks to the burglar’s girlfriend and family for their support and presence in court. ('If we’re ever going to make a difference in crime in this city,” Lewis explained later, 'we need to win the trust and support of people like this family.')"

Sounds like we have an AUSA who needs some serious retraining. The idea that society should worry about a need to "win over" a criminal's family is risible. You make a difference in crime by sentencing repeat offenders like Mr. Knight to serious time. Knight should have gotten every single day of the maximum 15 years. Burglars often graduate to more serious crimes, see, e.g., Komisarjevsky.

Hopefully, one day, if Mr. Knight continues to burgle houses, he will meet a homeowner armed with a Smith & Wesson.

If such crime was taken seriously from investigation to prosecution to punishment in actual practice then Mr. Fisher's colleagues at the major newspapers (in California at least) would be lamenting the numbers of "non-violent" burglars in prison.

One problem is that so few people care. The defendant's parents don't, the police and prosecutors have other priorities and most judges (and some prosecutors) cannot be bothered to take a stand in the routine case. Every once in awhile somebody puts their foot down and hammers a particularly deserving "non-violent" offender but it is so rare as to have no effect.

As an aside, as a prosecutor I have seen victims of residential burglary with a loss of a sense of security, however there are also many victims, myself included, who feel no such thing.

No kidding on that "non-violent" nonsense. And it is a serious crime to invade someone's home.

Another perverse element of the Left's handwringing with the purported overincarceration of "non-violent" offenders is this:

The very crimes considered non-violent: commercial burglary, theft, receiving stolen property,drug distribution, weapons offenses, and forgery/fraud--are those for which the recidivism rates are the highest.

Further, truly nonviolent offenders are rare. Virtually every street crime is committed by an offender willing to engage in violent acts if something goes wrong.

The sad thing, mjs, is that what you say is beyond obvious, and our friends on the left have a hard time seeing it. Why anyone listens to anything these guys have to say is beyond me.

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