Tulsa Burglar Arrested In Cavern Under I-44 For Second Time

Wednesday, March 18th 2015, 6:29 pm
By: News On 6

A serial burglar is back behind bars for committing the same crimes in the same area as he did almost two years ago.

In 2013, James Alexander escaped police by going through a tiny crevice in the middle of I-44 and hid in a cavern under the highway.

Now, in 2015, he's being held for three counts of second degree burglary. Police believe after he was released the first time he went right back to his old-ways.

They said Alexander targeted a Warehouse Market near I-44 and Garnett, just a few hundred feet away from where he was living underneath the highway.

In August of 2013 he was accused of burglarizing a nearby Subway eight times, along with other businesses.

Wednesday, the same officer who found him in his hiding place in 2013 found him again Tuesday.

3/18/2015 Related Story: Convicted Tulsa Burglar Arrested Again In Cavern Under I-44 By Same Officer

"He's probably protecting himself, protecting whatever belongings he has. I would call that normal behavior. He wants to hide. He doesn't want to be seen. He doesn't want to be bothered," said Associate Director for the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, Greg Shinn.

Police said he wasn't violent and surrendered once they showed up in his hiding place.

Alexander's family said he has mental problems, including schizophrenia and is bi-polar.

Shinn said putting Alexander behind bars again isn't going to do much to help him.

“We cannot incarcerate ourselves out of this problem," he said.

The first time, a judge found Alexander guilty of burglary and gave him a suspended sentence, meaning he didn't have to serve time as long as he didn't commit another crime.

8/8/2013 Related Story: Exclusive Tour: Cavern Below I-44 Where Accused Tulsa Burglar Was Living

Shinn said this isn't enough to help Alexander. He said people who are homeless and suffer from mental disorders need two things - a place to live and available treatment to get better.

"It's impossible to get into that recovery mode and get into that productive mode when you are on the streets," Shinn said.

He said getting the help is also anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 cheaper than incarcerating or hospitalizing mentally ill people who are repeat offenders.

Shinn said he plans to reach out to Alexander once he is released, then figure out what housing would fit him best and get him the proper health care.