Police: Drugs behind break-ins

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Authorities on Monday said a Berlin Center man suspected of committing as many as 15 break-ins in western Mahoning County stole to support his drug addiction.

Andrew McCourt, 26, entered no plea at his initial appearance on Monday in Mahoning County Austintown Area Court to three counts of third-degree felony burglary.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Wednesday. McCourt led sheriff’s deputies on a short police chase in Berlin Township when they went to serve the warrant.

McCourt has 12 past convictions involving drugs, domestic violence, drunk driving, burglary, theft, resisting arrest, receiving stolen property and obstruction of justice.

He also had four open cases filed in 2012 and 2013 for resisting arrest, drug abuse, obstructing justice and was charged with petty theft in June.

“Once the addiction is there, it takes away total judgment,” said Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Ken Cardinal. “It doesn’t matter if these are nighttime or daytime. The drug is dictating when they need it.”

Area police said the burglary problem is more widespread than McCourt, including another break-in on Monday. Less than an hour after McCourt’s initial appearance on Monday, someone broke into a Baird Road residence in Springfield Township through a basement window.

Investigators said there have been more than a dozen break-ins in Springfield, Beaver and Poland townships during the summer.

“What’s being taken is jewelry, television, money, if it’s laying around, and in some cases, guns,” said Beaver Township Det. Eric Dattilo.

Authorities in southeastern Mahoning County townships don’t think McCourt was involved in their burglaries, but suspect drug addiction is the motivation.

“These days a lot of the people that are buying the drugs are from the suburbs,” Dattilo said. “And if they don’t have the money to buy drugs, they’re going to come into your homes or your unlocked vehicles and take what they need.”

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