Friday, April 28, 2006

Open letter to a burglar

About a month ago you stole my motor scooter.
I think it was Shakespeare who wrote, “He who steals my purse steals trash.” He was right — money has limited value.
But you also violated my home.
I didn't know anyone could actually climb through that tiny garage window, but you did.
I am sure you broke into our home and stole my vehicle to sell it for drug money.
I thought you might have taken it for a joy ride and someone would find it. When it didn’t show up, it became apparent you sold it.
Law enforcement officers tell us most burglaries are committed to obtain drug money.
I was very angry that morning I walked out and realized someone had broken into our garage.
I forgot what drugs does to the body until I saw those 21 photos on the front page of The Brazil Times on a recent Saturday.
Even though I am no longer young, I am in better shape than you are and I might have killed you with my bare hands if I would have caught you in the garage that night. At least you would have been beaten and crying for mercy. Maybe next time you break into someone's home you won’t get away. They may have a loaded gun. Who knows?
Then I realized my anger was letting you control me. So, I stopped being angry.
Now my concern is for you.
I will get another vehicle. My life will continue. I am learning to be a more proficient journalist and editor. I work out. My body is getting stronger. But, if you don't give up the drugs, you will die at your own hand.
Have you looked in the mirror lately? Remember how young and vibrant you were. Take a look. See what your filthy habit has stolen from you.
I don't know who you are. But your friends do. They think they are protecting you by not turning you in. They are stealing your life by simply doing nothing.
There are wonderful treatment opportunities available in prison. Ever hear of the CLIFF program? You should look into it.
You probably won’t seek help while you are free, running around town.
Every week we print photos of people arrested on drug-related charges. Their photos look terrible. Their hair is stringy. Their clothes are cheap. They look like their bodies have aged. Usually, they have no muscle on their bones.
Compare those pictures with the CLIFF program participants we profiled in The Brazil Times a few weeks ago. They are smiling. they are healthy, they are getting their lives back.
Oh, by the way, they said don't want to see you and your friends again. In fact, they never plan to return to Brazil, even though their families live here.
Get some help. Death may be closer than you think.

Frank Phillips is The Brazil Times editor. He can be reached by e-mail at