Officers Hope Proposed Law Can Help Stop Theft Crimes

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Until Tuesday, Renee Bush had no problem being home alone.

“This is the first time it's ever happened to us,” she explained, just hours after her home was burglarized.

Now her sense of security is gone along with all kinds of electronics.

The burglars left the door open, but it’s not clear how they entered the home. Police say, though, that these career criminals keep what they need handy.

“This is a prime example of what we see as burglary tools,” Detective Mike Chornobay said, “cutters hammers some type of pry device, plyers and usually a set of gloves.”

“Now if we see someone walking the streets, two o'clock in the morning,” explained Capt. Hank Dial, “and they've got burglary tools, we stop them and it's obvious what they are up to, all we can do is a field information card on them. Take down their information and kind of watch them, warn them, things like that.”

That is why Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook asked West Virginia Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, to sponsor legislation that allows charges to be filed when a person is carrying with them instruments of crime.

Ohio and Kentucky already have similar laws.

Police would have to have reasonable suspicion to make the stop.

Dial said they would have to have reasonable suspicion to make the stop but adds it’s not just frustrating for police to not be able to make an arrest.

“It's frustrating for citizens because they see these guys out walking around, walking through their yards and it's obvious what they are doing and we can't arrest them,” he said.

Dial says even as they work to push this legislation through, the number of burglaries and breaking and entering cases has reached a plateau across the city.

In 2006, there were 1,214 such cases reported. In 2011, there were 994. There were 1,006 reported in 2012.

Holbrook said he appreciates Jenkins taking on sponsoring the legislation because, if it is passed, it will “give them a tool to prevent crime.”

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