Addison County residents want answers following break-ins
ADDISON, Vt. -
New information Tuesday night about a rash of break-ins in Addison County after more than 100 homes were been burglarized.
"They're not going to look like the stereotypical person that we think of when we watch television," said Det. Sgt. Robert Patten of the Vermont State Police.
How to spot a robber? That's not a comfortable conversation for a group of Addison county residents. Many have had their homes burglarized.
"Somebody's going to get hurt. They're nonviolent offenders now but what's it going to take until they become violent?" asked Addison resident Randy Stearns.
Since the beginning of the year, state police have investigated 105 burglaries in Addison County, which is on track to meet or exceed the number from 2012. Police say burglaries are on the rise across the state as a way to fund drug addictions.
"They lie, they cheat, they steal, they take from their mothers, they take from their brothers, they take from retail theft," said Col. Thomas L'Esperance of the Vermont State Police.
Police say to stop the crime attitudes needs to switch from fighting the war on drugs to fighting a war on addiction and help criminals get treatment.
"I'm here to tell you today that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem in this state. We don't have enough jails, we have enough police officers," explained Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn.
But authorities also made it clear they're not going to coddle criminals.
"We want the message loud and clear, if they break into your home, we're going to come after you, we're going to find you and we're going to put you in jail. And then the system needs to do something else so that a year from now we don't arrest the same person for breaking into the same house," L'Esperance said to the crowd.
Police made a key arrest Aug. 1 when they found a cache of stolen goods in 37-year-old Raymond Ritchie's Addison home. So far, 23 of the more than 100 victims have been able to recover their belongings.
"We were able with our most recent arrests to begin to close out those cases. We really are optimistic that we're going to be able to close out the majority of those," Vt. State Police Lt. Gary Genova said.
But for some residents, it's not enough.
"This guy had a huge rap sheet and yet no one went after him or looked to get after him until long after he had how many robberies? Why did it take so long to identify this guy, who was our neighbor?" asked one resident.
"Thirteen percent of burglaries get solved across the country. Know why?" asked L'Esperance. "No one is home, not too many witnesses. If there's a homicide in the area everyone comes out of the woodwork to help us out," he explained.
Since arresting Ritchie, there have only been two reported burglaries in Addison County. But police know that as long as there is growing drug problem, the burglaries could continue. It's unclear if Ritchie will be facing more charges and police are still asking anyone with information to come forward.