Calhoun County Sheriff Q&A: Copper theft an issue
PORT LAVACA - In the past year, Calhoun County has seen an increase in crime, and on Thursday afternoon, Calhoun County Sheriff B.B. Browning sat down to talk about what kind of crime he and his deputies are dealing with.
How long have you been sheriff, and what kind of changes have you seen during that time?
I've been sheriff for 14 years. We used to see a lot of DWIs, but that's gotten better, though of course we're still getting some of those because people just don't learn their lessons.
We've seen a lot of drugs. A lot of people go through here to bring stuff into Houston from Mexico. About three years ago, we had six meth labs in the area. That's a lot for a county this size. Drugs are a real problem.
Has there been an increase in crime in Calhoun County?
Now, there's been a lot of people stealing copper, because copper is selling for a lot right now.
We had some people scale a fence 8-feet-tall to steal the radiators out of some senior citizen buses.
They've been stealing air conditioners, causing thousands in damage for a couple hundred bucks in copper.
Why is this happening?
It's our economy, I think. People need jobs, or they don't want to get out and work, so they start stealing this stuff.
A lot of the stealing is drugs, though. Drugs are an expensive habit to have, and it costs them money every day to get them.
Are the 10-percent budget cuts requested by the county having an impact on efforts of the sheriff's office to prevent copper theft?
We're fighting it, but our budget is hurting us. We're going to have to take two deputies off the street because of the cuts to our budget.
What can community members do to help prevent crime like this?
The best thing is neighbors watching out, people being more observant if something strange is going on. But people shouldn't get involved. Once they've seen something, they need to let law enforcement know, and law enforcement can deal with it. We don't want anyone getting hurt. Also, if they've got copper and things like that, it's best to lock it up.