To The Editor:
A friend recently experienced a typical setback with a house he bought to fix up and resell with an associate. He was driving by his house and discovered two criminals inside ripping out appliances and copper water lines. The confrontation resulted in a fist fight and chase whereupon the criminals were arrested with the efforts of a dozen deputies and the Sheriff's helicopter.
Not only was the destruction costly but the encounter was dangerous. The disappointing thing we all suffer is that this plague of burglaries is threatening all of us with loss of value and increase of insurance costs.
Realtors tell me that investors or potential home buyers fear that they may find the same trouble after buying a house that was in good condition at the time of sale. The criminals have records yet the Sheriff had to release them on bail. The leader holds a Realtor's license and lied that he was in the house for a ligament purpose.
Talking with local deputies I hear a refrain that Sheriff Scott has spoken many times. "We arrest them and the judges let them out on bail or probation." This is discouraging to our many dedicated officers and it is a wonder they even bother to chase robbers down. It is more costly for us in Lehigh Acres to have these people on the loose than in jail.
We must unite as a community and demand that our legislators and judges impose tough sentences on most of the people that stand before them on second and third offenses. In reality most of these thefts succeed to the benefit of the criminal.
My friend will have to pay the cost of repairs himself while the defendants get free Public Defender services. The word at the prosecutor's office is that the robbers won't have to pay anything until the end of their probation for this crime; if ever. Thus, if they are as lucky as so many have been they could resume their trade selling stolen property. We have to make their luck much poorer.
I am calling on the leadership and citizens of this community to sign a statement urging state and federal legislators to enact laws that mandate prison time for this type of crime because of the opportunities everywhere in Florida for thefts and because of the harm it does to realty sales and homeowner values.
We know that crime by a few harms everyone in some way. I want us to distribute the statement among the elected officials and candidates for their offices in the next election. Let us copy the judges, the commissioners, the state's attorney and the news media.
I am asking that you take this issue up with your organization and secure their approval. Ask fellow business associates to join with us to impress officials that we are serious and will be mounting a fight to make them act on this issue. Please advise how you will help. I can be reached at 239-986-0421, We all ought to be mad as hell about this.
John C Miller