Local News

Henderson police want tougher law for habitual thieves

Posted January 27, 2011 5:37 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2011 6:52 p.m. EST

— Henderson police are urging state lawmakers to pass legislation this year that would toughen punishment for habitual offenders of certain types of misdemeanor crimes.

Lt. Chris Ball says police officers have found themselves arresting the same people for the same crimes – mostly stealing from grocery stores and discount stores.

For example, officers arrested John Junior Haywood, 54, of 647 W. Rockspring St., and Robin Davis, 44, of 2065 Francis Ave., on Saturday in connection with the theft of four packs of beef ribs from a local Food Lion.

Each was released after posting bond amounts of $300.

Under North Carolina law, the maximum sentences they could receive on misdemeanor larceny charges is 30 days in jail.

Both Haywood and Davis, however, have extensive criminal histories. Since 1981, Haywood has been charged with larceny and shoplifting-related crimes 48 times and has been convicted 39 times.

Davis’ history dates 25 years, and she’s been charged 54 times and convicted 36 times.

Henderson police want a law similar to one in Virginia, in which someone convicted three times for misdemeanor larceny can be charged with a felony upon a fourth arrest. That would increase any possible jail time to up to a year.

Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, said he hopes to introduce a bill as early as next week, but lawmakers say funding could be an issue, especially in times of a state budget crisis.

Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin, supports the legislation but says it could cost an estimated $23 million in the first year to incarcerate the additional criminals.

An alternative, he said, would be to limit the felony charge to people with a large number of convictions.