Village leaders aim to keep residents safe

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Village of Urbancrest councilman Lacy Wallace Jr. experienced a wide range of emotions when he discovered his wife’s vehicle had been stolen from their property. Initially, he says he was upset by the act, furious that someone would have so little respect as to steal from another human being. Then that feeling transitioned into sadness not only for his wife, but also for his fellow neighbors who might also be waking to the realization that their modes of transportation had been taken or vandalized in the night.

Wallace sat with those emotions for a while, alternating back and forth between the two extremes. And then he was hit with a sense of disappointment that was primarily aimed at himself, feeling as if he could have done more to protect his wife and his constituents in the village from becoming a victim of a crime.

“I joined the council because I wanted to be proactive (on health and safety matters) and not reactive (on the issues),” he said.

He said that he felt as if he had failed in that regard.

“I didn’t stay on top of some of the safety issues I wanted to,” he said.

Determined that he would not allow important safety matters to be put on the back burner again, Wallace addressed his fellow council members at their regular meeting in September with a request that they all do more to keep criminal activity from spreading throughout the community.

“We need to be more hands on,” he said. “With the village getting a little bigger, a little larger and expanding, I think it is essential that we work on safety issues a little more.”

The council agreed.

One of the primary measures the village officials want to take is to have the county sheriff’s office become more active in their patrolling efforts, particularly after dusk.

“We don’t really need them as much in the daytime because there are thousands of eyes out here,” said Wallace. “We need them out in the evening when there is a very limited number of eyes out here.”

The council said they would reach out to the department to make that request as soon as possible.

Council members also said they would like to see more efficient street lighting within the village, particularly near the highway. Councilwoman Shawn Moore said she would like to see if the light fixtures can be lowered on the pole so they cast a wider reflection across the street.

“The lighting we do have is too high for it to really have an effect on the lighting on the streets,” she said.

Council said they would work with the street maintenance crew to see what could be done in that regard.

Members of the health and safety committee said they would also bring up the topic at their upcoming meeting and discuss additional measures that could be taken to keep the community safer.

The increase in vehicular thefts and break-ins is not limited to the village of Urbancrest – just about every town, city, county and state is experiencing a rise in vehicular crime.

There are some steps motorists can take, however, to make their property less attractive to would-be criminals.

According to Lt. Jason Stern, with the Grove City Division of Police, the simplest step a person can take to reduce vehicular crime is to remove items from your car, even if you do not believe they have monetary value.

“I always say it doesn’t matter whether you think something is of value,” he said. “You could have a gym bag in your car and know that all that is in there is some clothing. But to the person who is looking in your car, that bag could have something valuable in it like a laptop or jewelry. And if something appears to be valuable, chances are they are going to try to get in there and take it.”

He said another simple step that can be applied to safeguard their property is to make sure their doors are locked.

“A majority of the vehicular thefts that we have responded to were from vehicles whose doors were unlocked,” said Stern.

He added that people should get in the habit of making sure they are locked because someone is already in the habit of checking to see whether they can get it into a car quickly just by moving the handle.

If homeowners do not park their vehicles in the garage at night, or if there is no garage to park a vehicle in, Stern suggests they be kept in a well-lit location. He said well-lit locations can be a good deterrent for criminals, as are motion detector lights and security cameras.

If using a security camera, Stern suggested that they be placed near eye-level so that faces or any other identifying features can be seen. He said the eye-level placement is especially valuable for locations near the front door of a house as it could also deter those who are looking to steal packages.

Stern said the division often holds safety and self-defense classes for the community.

Although the division does not currently have an official date set for an upcoming event, they do intend to host a class before the end of the year. Stern encouraged the community to follow their social media pages as it will be posted there when the announcement is made.

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