Source: Sherman Publications

Vandalism spurs new ordinance

by Mary Keck

January 16, 2013

“We’re putting vandals on notice,” said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle. “Commit a property crime in Independence, you’re going to jail.”

A breaking and entering ordinance saw its first reading at the Independence Township Board of Trustees meeting on January 8. The new ordinance was proposed to address the increased vandalism and criminal activity in vacant, foreclosed or abandoned dwellings that occurred in 2012, said Kittle.

The ordinance mirrors state law 750.115 and refers to both breaking and entering as well as entering without force. The ordinance covers structures such as granaries, railroad cars, and boathouses along with offices and foreclosed homes, which are typically targeted by criminals. Violators of the new ordinance will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Peter Keenan, the township’s attorney who prosecutes township ordinance violations in the 52-2 District Court, suggested the Board of Trustees adopt the law.

With the adoption of the new ordinance, “the township, through the Sheriff’s department, can enforce a misdemeanor that can be written under local ordinance as opposed to it being a state law violation,” said Keenan.

Lt. Dirk Feneley of the Independence Township Substation said he supports adoption of the ordinance and feels it will make the work of our local law enforcement officers easier.

According to Feneley, crimes like breaking and entering are up. There were 21 breaking and entering incidents in Independence Township in 2011 and 32 in 2012. “A 52 percent increase,” said Feneley.

The Board of Trustees supported the new ordinance with a unanimous vote. A public hearing will take place at the board’s next regular meeting on January 29 at 7 p.m. in Township Hall.