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The real cost of home burglaries

Victims say it's hard to recover emotionally

The real cost of home burglaries

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho - Five years after Dennis Hammon's business was broken into, Hammon still doesn't feel safe.

A photographer, everything Hammon needed to run his own company and provide a living for himself and his family was inside his storefront location on a busy intersection in Idaho Falls.

Dr. Dan Weinrich said it is normal to experience phobic reactions, as well as insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite or other feelings of guilt and fear after going through such a traumatic event. However, those reactions should diminish significantly after 30 days.

Weinrich has the following suggestions for those who have been victimized:

  • Exercise to spend off the emotional energy.
  • Eat well, eat right.
  • Sleep well, keep a journal to write through sleepless nights.
  • Stay busy, keep your normal schedule.
  • Talk to those who listen.
  • Warn people that you are having a bad week.
  • Don't medicate. Don't drink or use drugs to deal with this.
  • Don't make major life decisions for the next 30 days.
  • Seek spiritual, philosophical, physical closure.

Late one evening, after Hammon locked his studio, burglars took a crowbar to the back door. They rummaged through the drawers and stole everything they thought they could sell for money.

"When you walk in and you see that, your first impact is disbelief," Hammon said. "It's extremely frustrating because everything you need to make a living, or your personal belongings, have been vandalized and you've been violated."

Prosecuting Attorney Bruce Pickett said he understands that feeling. His home was broken into in 2007. It was his children who first went inside and discovered their home had been trashed and their items had been stolen.

Pickett said it is difficult to ever regain a sense of security.

"You certainly feel violated at that moment," Pickett said. "(There's) a sense of loss, a loss of innocence and protection. Just a few months ago, we were coming home from (being) out of town and one of my kids turned and said, 'Oh do you think our home was burglarized again?' And it's been six years since it happened."

Pickett said the real cost to burglaries isn't just the monetary value.

"These crimes are so hurtful to the community," he said. "You continue to have that loss of security in your own home."

Pickett said he now has a security system in place, something Jeff Edwards with the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office said may be one of the best deterrents.

Edwards said an audible alarm will likely reduce the amount of items that are taken from a home if the alarm is loud enough. He said it not only alerts the neighbors, it also is too difficult for a burglar to stay in the home long.

Mark Dinkel, an Idaho Falls resident who had his home broken into on Halloween, said he doesn't know if he'll feel like his home is ever safe again.

"I go to work all day wondering what I'm going to come home to when I get off," Dinkel said. "You don't know what's happening at the house. It gives you a bad feeling. You feel violated."

The man Dinkel believes robbed his home is now behind bars awaiting court proceedings.

Although Dinkel was able to get back some of his items, the most valuable ones will never be returned, such as the jewelry that once belonged to his father.

"It's getting easier," he said. "Had they not caught him, I'd probably still be a little more on edge. I'm assuming he cares nothing of what me or the other some 30 people (victims) have gone through."

For Hammon, he'll never know what happened to his camera equipment. The suspects that broke into his studio were never caught and his items were never recovered. He said he is still trying to replace some of the equipment he needs to run his business. In the meantime, Hammon said he has moved his storefront to a home location and installed an alarm system.

Now, he teachers other photographers about the importance of being more guarded.

"We don't advertise on our cars," he said. "I don't want people to know where I live with the equipment I have. What that says is, 'Come steal my cameras.'"

Hammon said even now and even with an alarm system, he worries it will happen again.

"You hear noises in the middle of the night, and you get up and check because you never know," he said.

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