Someone opened the gate and let the thieves out! The vermin slithered out from under their rocks this week and wreaked havoc on the good citizens and merchants of Copperas Cove, stealing property not rightfully theirs before slithering back into the dank confines of their grimy lairs.

Why do these criminals steal rather than earning their own way, as decent people do? The reasons are as plentiful as the number of thieves that plague us. Laziness, slothfulness, greed and lack of ambition immediately come to my mind, but I’m strongly biased against thieves.

I’m not talking about the child who steals a candy bar from the local convenience store or even the kleptomaniac who steals out of some psychological impulse.

I even have a certain amount of understanding for a person who steals solely for the purpose of feeding his or her family in a time of destitution and desperation.

Understanding, yes. Excusing — no. Given the availability of assistance for the needy in our area, there is no excuse for theft.

I’m addressing the low-life ne’er-do-well who chooses to steal in lieu of making money through legitimate employment to obtain the desired property and the greedy sloth for whom enough is never enough. I’m addressing the adolescent for whom stealing is a rite of passage and acceptance into a selected group.

What parent wants their child to belong in a group known to engage in shoplifting activities? It takes a strong will and mature attitude to resist the forces of peer pressure.

What about the thief who steals from a drug dealer? There are those among us who do not consider such an act a serious crime with a legitimate victim.

After all, the drug dealer was engaged in a crime when the crime was committed against him or her. What thief is going to report being victimized by a thief? At their own peril, some do.

Stealing is stealing. Society has no tolerance for these criminals and there is no place for them in Cove.

Do you think my views are a bit harsh? Maybe — but in my career, I have seen petty thieves morph into hardened criminals capable of committing the most heinous of crimes.

But some psychologists think there is more to it than my simple analysis. There are those who believe low self-esteem, the desire for attention or just showing off, particularly in an adolescent, causes the person to steal in an effort to be accepted or to equalize all things.

Maybe, but theft is theft and should be dealt with as such.

As Barney Fife so aptly opines, “Nip it! Nip it in the bud!”

Theft/burglary

While it is historically documented that thefts peak during the holidays and during the high summer months, Covites suffered an inordinate number of thefts this week. Eighteen thefts/burglaries were reported, up from previous weeks.

  • A theft of general merchandise was reported Dec. 20 from a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A burglary of a residence was reported Dec. 20 in the 100 block of Oak Street.
  • The theft of a wallet and currency was reported at a retailer Dec. 21 in the 2900 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of electronics from a residence was reported Dec. 21 in the 1200 block of Urbantke Court.
  • The theft of a flat iron was reported Dec. 22 in the 300 block of Constitution Drive.
  • Jewelry and medications were reported stolen Dec. 22 in the 100 block of Nelson Drive.
  • The theft of currency was reported Dec. 22 in the 600 block of West Avenue B.
  • The theft of currency was reported Dec. 22 in the 1400 block of South Farm-to-Marker 116.
  • Electronics were reported stolen Dec. 22 in the 100 block of West Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The theft of miscellaneous groceries was reported Dec. 22 from a retailer in the 2900 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.

Potential thieves should be aware that active surveillance by trained theft prevention personnel is employed by this and other retailers in the area. You will be caught.

  • An attempted burglary of a vehicle was reported Dec. 22 in the 800 block of North Fifth Street.
  • The theft of currency was reported Dec. 23 in the 1000 block of Park Avenue.
  • The theft of clothing and toys and other household items valued at $400 was reported Dec. 24 in the 1100 block of South 19th Street. The Grinch remains active.
  • The theft of groceries and firewood valued at $126 was reported Dec. 24 at a retailer in the 29000 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A burglary of a habitation was reported Dec. 25 in the 200 block of North Main Street.
  • A burglary of a building was reported Dec. 25 in thee 500 block of Sunset lane. Saws valued at $400 were reported stolen.
  • A burglary of a vehicle was reported Dec. 26 in the 700 block of Traci Drive. A window was damaged and items valued at $980 were reported stolen.

The “Take-it, hide-it, lock it” philosophy might have prevented this crime. Leaving valuables inside a vehicle in plain view, whether locked or not, is an invitation to a thief, even a novice one.

  • A theft of general merchandise was reported Dec. 26 at a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.

Assaults

Three assaults were reported this week. All of these were family violence assaults. While even one of these crimes is too many and devastating to the victims and family unit, this number is a welcome relief from the staggering numbers of late.

Perhaps folks made an earnest attempt to get along during the holiday. Hopefully, the numbers won’t skyrocket when the Yuletide bills arrive in January.

  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence and criminal mischief were reported Dec. 21 in the 100 block of Stagecoach Circle.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Dec. 24 in the 2100 block of Indian Camp Trail.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Dec. 24 in the 200 block of Bridle Drive.

Other crimes

  • Publishing/threatening to publish intimate visual material was reported Dec. 23. Location is omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • Invasive visual recording was reported Dec. 21 in the 1100 block of Golf Course Road.
  • Forgery of a financial instrument was reported Dec. 22 in the 400 block of Creek Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 22 in the 700 block of North 23rd Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 23 in the 2300 block of Dennis Street.
  • Reckless damage was reported Dec. 23 in the 100 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Criminal trespass was reported Dec. 22 in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Criminal trespass was reported Dec. 26 in the 2200 block of Miles Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 22 in the 800 block of Park Avenue.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 21 in the 1200 block of Little Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 22 in the 300 block of Chestnut Drive.
  • Possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces was reported Dec. 21 in the 200 block of South First Street.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Dec. 20 in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Dec. 20 in the 1100 block of Katelyn Circle.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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