Police chief says repeat offenders are taxing resources - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke city police chief says repeat offenders are taxing resources

They were plaguing Roanoke city so much last year, city police chief Chris Perkins nicknamed them.

Perkins nicknamed them "the five."

Five burglars police believe were responsible for triple digit burglaries and larcenies in Roanoke city last year.

"Before we started developing them and arresting them for burglaries, they had 46 prior felony convictions," Perkins said.

"That blows my mind!"

Michael Nelson was the most recent to be sentenced in Roanoke city circuit court.

A judge gave Nelson 25 years, a year for each burglary he committed last year in the Roanoke Valley.

Before detectives collared Nelson for this latest burglary spree, he had 19 prior theft-related felony convictions on his record.

Court records show his longest prison sentence for those 19 convictions was a year and a half.

Perkins told the stories of the "Five" to Roanoke city leaders last week during his annual public safety briefing to city council.

Perkins urged city leaders to lobby lawmakers at the General Assembly in Richmond to look at strengthening prison sentence requirements for some repeat offenders.

"If I had to deal with them 46 times in our system, then I think our citizens have had enough," Perkins said.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Sentencing Commission said the agency looked at tweaking sentencing guidelines for burglars a few years ago but determined the guidelines were solid.

No lawmaker introduced any type of legislation addressing Perkins' concerns at this legislative session, the spokesperson said.

Perkins said some repeat offenders are taxing his resources, as detectives work long hours to try and catch the same guys over and over again.

Perkins said he sees the same names pass over his desk in reports.

In 1995, the state essentially abolished parole, mandating offenders serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences.

Burglary is classified as a violent crime according to state sentencing guidelines, the Virginia Sentencing Commission confirmed.

Since 2000, the state's penitentiary population has grown by a little over 6,000.

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