CASE STUDY: Burglary
Background to Case:
This was a case referred to us by the Restorative Justice HUB regarding the burglary of an elderly lady, Angela. The offence had been committed by Dave, 43 who had received an 80 month custodial sentence as a result of the burglary of Angela, and other burglaries in the area that he had committed around the same time.
Dave had walked onto the street where Angela lives one afternoon and asked Angela who was going clean up the rubbish at the end of her garden. Angela said she was going to do it later on in the day. Dave offered to clear it up for her, which Angela thought was very kind, considering that she did not know Dave. Whilst Angela went to get a sweeping brush from inside her bungalow, Dave had followed Angela inside and stole her handbag which was in the living room. When Angela came back out, Dave had gone. Angela did not notice the handbag was missing until 2 days later when she needed to get some money from the bag.
Angela said that after she realised she had been burgled, she felt very scared and worried as she lives on her own, is 89 years old and does not have any family who live close by to help her. Angela said that she did not have a penny to her name as all of her money and bank cards were in the bag so she was very worried. Angela said that she now takes extra precautions, locking her door and not answering to people who she does not know.
Dave was initially unable to provide clear details about the offence due to having taken drugs at the time. He said that reason for him committing the offence was for money and that he targeted the elderly as he knew thought would be vulnerable and he ‘would be more likely to get away with more money’. Dave said he felt ‘very guilty’ about what he did and said that he understands that Angela may have felt scared to be in her own home which he said that he does not wish for Angela to feel this way. Dave wanted the opportunity to apologise to Angela.
Following preparation visits to both parties, Dave wrote Angela a letter in which he expressed his ‘deepest apologies’ and also explained his current situation and lifestyle, which Angela had asked Dave to write about so she was able to understand some reasons for his offending behavior. Dave wrote about how he has now been drug free for 6 months and continued to apologise a number of times throughout the letter.
Angela stated that she was ‘really pleased’ with the letter that Dave had written to her as he had ‘clearly taken the time and effort to write this’. Angela said that although she was not deeply emotionally impacted by the burglary she was very happy on receiving the letter as she was able to understand more from Dave’s point of view why he did it. Angela hopes that Dave can turn his life around after his prison sentence.
Dave said ‘at the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I would get anything from writing Angela a letter, but it made me think about how what I did impacted on Angela and the way she lives her life’.