Benton Harbor man gets jail time, probation for Berrien Township break-in

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, December 13, 2023

NILES — A Benton Harbor man who broke into a building and stole tools and other items from a family in Berrien Township was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Trial Court to probation and jail and must pay over $19,000 in restitution.

Bruce Allen Benson, Jr., 23, of Benton Harbor, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny and was sentenced to two years probation, 180 days in jail with credit for 122 days served, $558 in fines and costs and $19,583 in restitution.

The incident occurred Sept. 26, 2022 at a property in Berrien Township.

One of the victims spoke last week when Benson was originally scheduled to be sentenced and said that the break in had been devastating for him and his father. He said they had lost decades worth of tools they had collected and used in their collision repair business, tools he said had both monetary and sentimental value.

Judge Smith noted that Benson also owes more than another $10,000 in restitution in other court cases.

“The reality of the situation is that these vehicles and tools were going to be this elderly victim’s retirement income,” she said. “It’s pretty sad when someone has worked their whole life and you went and took it away from him.”

“You can never give back what you took from him,” she added. “Hopefully you will reflect on how you would feel if someone took away something you had worked for.”

The judge noted that this is a situation where the victims can’t be made entirely whole and said she considered a prison sentence. “You are a drug addict, I will give you a chance to turn your life around,” she said. “If you don’t, you will go to prison. I can’t make it plainer than that.”