Police are seeing a new type of criminal. They're running across more people who are desperate to gamble. Burglary detectives say in the past, the majority of people who stole property and pawned it, did so to feed a drug habit. That's no longer the case. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports now, it's people stealing to support their gambling addiction.
Police say they are seeing people who've never been in trouble with the law before, now facing felony charges and prison time because they start gambling and cannot quit. These people pawn everything they own and when that runs out, they steal from others and pawn that too.
Linda can cook Mexican food like nobody's business. She used to gamble like nobody's business as well. It got to the point where it controlled her life, where going to the casino was all that mattered.
"I borrowed. I stole. I wrote hot checks," Linda said.
Linda says every penny she made went to gambling. She borrowed money. She pawned her possessions, even stole from her own family.
"I'd justify it that I was going to put it back, win and put it back, that I wasn't stealing, but I was stealing," said Linda.
Burglary detectives say they are hearing this type of story again and again. People go to the casino for fun, then before they know it, they are stealing to keep the gambling going.
They recently worked a college student who fell into this trap.
"He ended up pawning everything he owned, and when he ran out of his own items to pawn, he started stealing from family, friends, anybody else he could," said Tulsa Police Detective Jim McClaughry.
Police say what is so disturbing is that this new breed of burglar isn't a street thug stealing to buy drugs, they are middle and upper class people with no criminal history.
"These are people who have full-time jobs, contributing to society, who are actually going out and doing this," said McClaughry.
Pawning someone else's property could mean five years in prison. Police are shocked that just in a couple of years, nearly half of the people they see pawning stolen property are people addicted to gambling.
Linda hasn't gambled in two years and gives the credit to Gamblers Anonymous. Now, she counsels others.
She says the number of Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Tulsa has more than tripled, so many stories of devastation, from people of all walks of life.
The number for GA is 760-4349.
Watch the video: People Stealing To Support Their Gambling Addiction