SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — In the time since Lane County released close to a hundred criminals and suspects from the Lane County Jail, we have heard from many viewers who say they have been burglarized and believe there is a connection.
One family of a former sheriff’s deputy says they just got hit.
“We’ve been here eight years and never had any problems,” said Springfield homeowner Ali Rich.
That changed for Rich and her family Monday night.
“When we were sleeping, someone came through our back gate, into the back door and into the garage. They rifled through tons of stuff in the garage and stole a mountain bike, a hunting bow, tons of our hunting equipment, fishing equipment,” Rich said.
Rich’s husband just got laid off. He was a Lane County sheriff’s deputy.
Because of that, the family knows the drill when it comes to securing their home: They lock their doors. They light their backyard. They have a guard dog, Zeus.
Despite all that, someone walked out of their garage Monday night with gear worth more than $7,000.
“I think it’s kind of a coincidence that the jail closes and within a week this happens to us,” Rich said.
“The Springfield Police have the same concerns that the citizens of all of Lane County have. When you’re doing those types of releases at those numbers, it’s going to affect this county in a negative way,” said Springfield Police Sgt. John Umenhofer.
Investigators are trying to catch the theives who broke into the Riches’ garage.
But here’s the problem. Springfield’s jail only holds misdemeanors. Seven-thousand dollars pushes the crime up to a felony. That means the suspects would come back to the Lane County Jail and likely not stay for long.
“There are some people who know the system is broken; they’ve been through it a number of times. If you’re booked and released the same day five different times in a row, you’re obviously more likely to continue your behavior because you’re not getting a penalty for it,” Umenhofer said.
“The criminals, they know there are no consequences. They know they’re going to go to county and because of the beds being closed, they’re releasing tons of people,” Rich said.
Rich and her husband say they canceled their family’s planned vacation this weekend. They say the theives didn’t just take their camping gear, but their sense of security too.
“We don’t know if somebody’s going to try to come into our house next time or what the next thing is going to be,” Rich said.
The Lane County Jail only has 152 beds and releases inmates based on a computer program called the Risk Assessment Tool.
In most cases, that means violent offenders are held while a lot of property crime suspects aren’t.