Residents address neighborhood burglaries
Ninety-six members of the Westgate and Camp Chase blockwatches held a joint meeting Aug. 24 to raise awareness and share prevention tips concerning crime in their neighborhoods.
According to statistics released by the Columbus Division of Police, the Greater Hilltop Area reported 142 burglaries in July. Thirty-two burglaries were in the Westgate area.
“I’ve probably caught more burglars this year than I have the last 17 years,” Officer Mark Browning said.
Browning patrolled the Westside for about 10 years, spent six years on the vice squad and for almost two years he has worked for the Strategic Response Bureau (SRB) at the Columbus Division of Police.
Karen Lorenz, coordinator of the Westgate Blockwatch, said their bike patrol remains vigilant and recently helped in the apprehension of two groups allegedly burglarizing garages.
She said some of the alleged thieves turn are very young, like one youth connected to the recent arrest.
“He looked real innocent. He was a sweet little boy with burglary tools in his backpack and a warrant out for his arrest,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz said residents can deter crime by being cautious of those hired to work on their homes, keeping garages closed, not leaving high dollar items in vehicles and purchasing home security systems.
Additionally, being active in one’s community can be a deterrent to criminals.
Detective Gerald Milner, coordinator of Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, said criminals tend not to prey on people who appear to be active and involved with their community.
Intelligence from residents greatly assists officers in solving and preventing crime, Browning said. An important piece of intelligence police can receive are license plate numbers, which can be essential in tracking down a vehicle or person.
According to Browning, a woman had left her home for a short time when strangers entered her home, thinking she would be gone for a few hours. They had not planned on her return so soon. The woman had a gun put to her head when she returned home and sat at her computer.
A neighbor thought to write down the license plate of a suspicious white van and this helped the police spot the vehicle on another part of town, along with the men and a concealed gun, and they were arrested due to the cautious thinking of a neighbor.
Residents were told to never open the door for a stranger, and instead, speak through the door if necessary.
“If they knock at the door and ask a dumb question, don’t just blow that off,” Browning said. “Call the police, take the license plate. Something like that can sometimes be enough to have a plain clothes unit follow them.”
Milner said never hesitate to reach out to Crime Stoppers, even if it is through a text message or email. Crime Stopper tips resulted in 175 arrests last year.