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DIGGING DEEPER: Property crimes among the top crimes in Pima County

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TUCSON - The new year has just begun and thieves are breaking into homes stealing what some people may have gotten for Christmas.

According to statistics from an insurance company, more homes are broken into in Arizona during the month of January. 

Across the country, over 3,000 burglaries are committed daily, according to the FBI’s crime data. 

In 2018, claims were over $3 billion with the average claim being more than $2,700. 

Here in Pima County, property theft crimes are among the top crimes. 

Amelia Cramer is the Chief Deputy County Attorney and she said that’s second to domestic violence.

Pima County Sheriff's Department reports in 2019 property crimes totaled 7,595.

The only numbers available for Tucson Police were in 2017. Their numbers totaled 25,549.

The reason for the high numbers according to Cramer are several: “The socio-economic factors and factors relating to the prevalence of addiction and drugs in our community that contribute to criminal activity.”

In Marana, Ariz., they had over 1,000 property crimes.

Officer Clay Strahle said 25-year-old John Armer is a suspect in some of those cases.

“There were apparently were some previous cases that he had been involved in,” said Strahle.

News 4 Tucson obtained surveillance video from Marana police. 

It showed Armer in July at a Target, shoplifting video games. 

These were games that police said he later sold to pawn shops.

Officer Strahle said it is a huge problem. “ It's going on every day pretty much, it's usually most related as with most property crime with some sort of drug addiction.”

Police said  they were able to track down Armer because of an item that was stolen and taken to a pawn shop.“Luckily it had some custom engraving on it that we were able to trace back to the pawnshop.”

Quick Trip Pawn on Prince Road is where the item was found.

The pawn shop's owner, Aleksey Rudnitsky told News 4 Tucson the following:

“Without us reporting every item that comes through the doors a lot of this stuff would never be found.”

Rudnitsky has two stores and has been in business for eight years.

He said everyone who sells items has to have a government-issued ID and they're fingerprinted.

If the items are stolen police take them making him a victim.

“One out 10 cases list us a victim and we get some restitution but that happens very rarely.”

The County Attorney's office offers diversion programs to people who are arrested for possessing drugs.

Cramer said, “These types of drug diversion programs and drug treatment courts work to reduce property crimes at least to some extent.”

Cramer added the diversion programs were started by County Attorney  Barbara La Wall and they are now up to a 52% success rate. 

She mentioned an individual who had been to prison seven times got into a diversion program, successfully completed it.  He then later disclosed he had committed hundreds of burglaries that he had never been caught. 

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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