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Serial burglar costing small business owners

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- A local business owner is angry because every time a convicted serial burglar gets out of jail he goes back to his old ways.

And she's tired of him targeting her stores!  His name is Richard Freeman.  He is 66-years-old and he's currently behind bars at the Hamilton County Justice Center but he's been there before.  Freeman is a career criminal, he even went to prison for seven years for a series of break-ins, and as soon as he got out (you guessed it) he was back at it.

"Supreme Nut and Candy" owns five stores in this area.  According to the owner at least three of those stores have been hit by Richard Freeman in just the last year.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Glass windows don't keep him out, locked doors don't keep him out.  The only hope is a judge will keep him in jail.

On January 17th of last year, Richard B. Freeman got out of prison after serving seven years for a long string of break-ins at small stores in the Columbus area.  On April 4th, Keri Cravens watched on surveillance video as an incredibly casual Richard Freeman broke into her Supreme Nut and Candy store in Western Hills.

Watching the video again she said, "He spent 45 minutes in my store, rummaging through every cabinet, he actually brought beer with him and drank it in the store while he was doing it.  He took off his coat used the bathroom.  Made himself at home and then he finally found some money."

Freeman even sat in the store counting his loot!  On April 28th, surveillance cameras in Craven's Montgomery store caught Freeman doing the same thing and she was furious.

She said, "Furious...Furious...Why can't we find him? Why can't we do anything?"

Two days after a sharp Hamilton County Sheriff's Detective put Richard Freeman on Crime Stoppers he was picked up.

Cravens says, "They found all the clothes, the hammer which he stole from the Western Hills store.  They found everything in the videos, they arrested him, I thought fine, great, he goes away, I'm elated.  Happier than anything."

Freeman still hasn't gone to trial on those cases.  In the meantime he's been in and out of jail.  Released last August, according to court documents, he broke into Edible Arrangements in Anderson Township.  When he got out of jail April 2nd of this year what's believed to be Freeman was again caught breaking into one of Cravens' stores in Harrison. 

He's charged with four break-ins April 23rd in Montgomery,
the next day he allegedly broke into Snappy Tomato and a hair salon. 

For Cravens and others the worst part of knowing Richard B. Freeman is, "The expense.  I'm a small business and all the companies he's hit are small businesses. We can't afford the hits. The police are doing their job. We're doing our job and the justice center keeps letting him out because the man knows what he's doing.  That's what's so frustrating."

Keri Cravens tells me she's actually spent close to five thousand dollars doing what she calls "Freeman proofing" her stores.  She's changed the backdoors and put safes in all of them so Freeman can't get to the cash any more.

Even though he's currently in jail, she figures as soon as he gets out he'll be doing it all again.  The good news on this situation is a bunch of the cases have been consolidated and in the next few weeks Freeman will go in front of Judge Melba Marsh.  She's well known for speaking her mind and not hesitant to hand down effective sentences.




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