Crime victims keep on paying

Published 8:52 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Criminal activity – you read about it on the front page of the newspaper you are currently holding; you see it on TV; or you hear about through other means.

What possesses a person to live such a life is beyond me to figure out. Perhaps they had a bad childhood, living within an environment full of hate. Perhaps they were led into such a life because they are easily influenced by others. Perhaps they turn to a life of crime because they have no other means to survive. Perhaps it’s because they’re just mean people and choose to spew hatred towards their fellow man by committing a robbery, or in worse cases, physical assault, rape or even murder.  Whatever the case, we, as law-abiding citizens, always face the fear of becoming a victim of a crime.

Over the past few months, I knew local law enforcement agencies were dealing with a rash of breaking and entering and larceny crimes. I had heard of cases being investigated in Bertie and Hertford counties, the majority of which were thefts of flat screen TV’s and guns.

By Wednesday of last week, that crime spree took a turn for the worse as a family home and a historic clubhouse were burned in the aftermath of a breaking and entering. Then I learned that a March 10 burglary of a home in Boykins, Va. had led to the torching of that residence. Ditto for two dwellings in Hertford County.

I had trouble wrapping my mind around this type of crime. It’s one thing to work your butt off for the simple pleasures of life and come home after a long, hard day at work to find your door kicked in and your TV gone. It’s entirely different to arrive home and find all your worldly possessions lying in ashes.

My heart bled last week while interviewing two men who experienced the latter. I could feel their pain.

One man I knew extremely well – Pike Harrington. My late father-in-law, Louis Vann, worked for and was close friends with Pike’s father, the late J.J. “Monk” Harrington. The Harrington name is among the area’s elite…“Monk” operated Harrington Manufacturing in Lewiston and served in the North Carolina Senate for a number of years. The family’s lodge (clubhouse), deep in the woods of Bertie County, had seen governors, Major League baseball elite and just plain ordinary folks enjoy the hospitality of the Harrington family since 1956. It’s now reduced to ashes, of which are many fond memories.

Saving every penny he could, Leon Bolton of Boykins, Va. performed much of the work on his home, one his family has enjoyed over the past 12 years. He proudly watched his family grow inside that comfortable home, one full of treasures, not of great monetary value, but rather of the sentimental nature. What he sees now is rubble left in the wake of a robber turned arsonist.

All this leaves one with is to ask, why. Couldn’t the thieves simply take what they wanted and leave? What’s the purpose, what’s the motivation behind inflicting even more grief and agony on a family? What have they done to you? Were you jealous because they had possessions you didn’t have? If so, why didn’t you go out, get a job and purchase what you wanted? If you didn’t have the education to land a job, there’s plenty of room within our local institutions of higher learning.

Now, these criminals, arrested last week on numerous charges, have no future chance to right their wrongs. And the ironic twist is that the victims of their crimes will have to pay, through taxes, for their incarceration. Ain’t that a kick in the teeth!

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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