Line of Defense

During the past five weeks, some 20 Parkersburg homes have been burglarized. Most of the homes are located in upscale neighborhoods with the homeowners either away for the winter, and not realizing they had been victims until they returned, or occupied by elderly residents who are home during the break-in. Fortunately, no one has been injured. Yet.

Few people would be surprised to learn that police believe those responsible for these break-ins are drug users and selling what they steal to purchase more drugs. In fact, drugs are behind much of the crime committed in Parkersburg and other areas, and present a danger to all citizens. Our community and state are no longer the safe havens some might wish they were. Two West Virginia towns, Wheeling and Morgantown, made a recent list of top ten U.S. cities in which violent crime rates are soaring. Large sections of West Virginia are now officially designated as part of the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Every day, local police deal with the drug-related crimes in our area, and they have seen some success. However, law enforcement officials would be the first to say it is impossible to eradicate this problem without help.

Citizens must step up. We all need to protect ourselves and our neighbors. While no one has been injured in local break-ins, many homeowners in other locations, including many elderly residents, have been severely beaten, some fatally, in home invasions fueled by drug abuse.

Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin reminded us we must all work together to tackle this plague.

“Neighbors need to be vigilant and look out for each other,” he said. “Any suspicious activity in your neighborhood should be reported to the police immediately,” he said.

Being vigilant, being cautious and being aware – and doing so for our neighbors as well – may be the best line of defense against becoming swept up in this crime wave.