Newspaper Archive of
The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
August 7, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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August 7, 2019

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Page 8D R porter August O rl By Diane Glidewell news@mymcr.nef About 35 residents of the Forsyth Country Club Park area met at Alderman Hall on July 24 to form a Neighborhood Watch. The neighbors are concerned about the rash of car break-ins and other thefts that has contin- ued in the area over almost a year. The thefts have accelerated from taking things from unlocked cars to breaking car windows, and one new truck was stolen. Several people in the neighborhood have had gas siphoned out of cars in their garages. Neighbors who came included older couples who have lived in the neighborhood for decades, families with small children and those who moved into the neighborhood a few months ago. Council member Mike Dodd, former council member Jimmy Jones and Sheriff Brad Freeman be on the streets and to call law enforcement whenever they see anything suspicious. He said calls have increased since neighbors began talking to one another about the problems. Harris said before communication increased he had parked his personal vehicle in the neighborhood one night and sat there waiting for a call to come in to dispatch about the suspicious vehicle It never did. One neighbor complained that after his new truck was stolen from his drivewa) he had reports that it was seen around Forsyth at night for 90 days. He kept contacting the police department until it was eventually found. He was always told the police were still working on it but never got a report. Harris said the depart- ment will keep working on the case until it makes arrests. "Hopefully the Neighborhood Watch will help us combat this;' 7, 2019 Neighbors from the Country Club Park area in Forsyth meet and talk about how to make their homes safer. Watch signs to post. not know it was empty until are usually home. Jimmy Jones and Michael Hames agreed to be they broke the window. Harris said there's not an easy answer on whether or not to lock cars at home, but never leave anything contacts, also Monroe County Deputy Rich- ard Coughenour told the group Asked if there is an increase in drug and gang activity in Forsyth, Harris said he does not think so. He thinks criminals are repeat- were among the neighbors, said Harris. ing crimes and becoming more insight. He said especially don't about the successful Neighbor- "I don't know why people are Forsyth officer Jeremy Malone bold where they are successful, leave guns in cars. hood Watch at Heritage Farms picking on a certain neighbor- said he will be the liaison between Another neighbor asked Harris Asked when it is legal to use a subdivision near Bolingbroke tha hood;' said council member the Neighborhood Watch andif he thinks more of the car break weapon, Harris said you can pro- has been in place for 12 years. Melvin Lawrence. the police department. He said ins are committed by people on tect yourself or someone else with He said neighbors came together::i "I think it's because they've been successful" said Jones. "I believe it's the same people? The neighborhood includes Morningside Drive, Meadow Drive, Park Drive, Country Country Club Road, some of West Johnston Street, Pine Circle and East Lake Drive. Police Chief Eddie Harris said his officers are "keeping the area hot," patrolling it regularly both at night and during the day. He said there have been no break-ins or vehicles tampered with for the last two or three weeks. He said no arrests have been made, but his officers are working on it. There are plans for more electronic surveillance of the neighborhood. The numerous entrances and exits make it hard to monitor everyone coming and going. Harris emphasized the key to stopping the crimes is for people who live in the area to be familiar with who should and shouldn't if neighbors give police a reason they can stop someone in the neighborhood and question them. "Our job is to be a resource for the community; you are the most important part of the Watch," said Malone. "You know what is and isn't supposed to be there" Malone told the group to establish captains who would set up information trees that would enable them to reach out to each other and exchange information. He said the police department also establishes rapport with Neighborhood Watches in other counties, as well as works with Monroe County Sheriff's Office, to solve crimes. Jones said the neighbors have been working together for several months through a Facebook site to keep each other and law enforcement informed and are now taking the next step to get organized. He asked if the city can get them some Neighborhood foot or people in vehicles. Harris said he thinks it's a combination; he said officers have chased suspi- cious people on foot out of the neighborhood to waiting vehicles. Asked how law enforcement handles several houses in the neighborhood outside city limits, Harris said the city police depart- ment usually responds to the houses. The city and county have a centralized 911 center; so all calls go to the same place. "It's engrained in us not to call 911," said Dodd. "But we a central 911 for whether or not it's an emergency. Don't worry about calling." "If you call [to report something suspicious], you haven't done anything wrong" said Harris. A neighbor asked if it is best to leave cars unlocked to keep thieves from breaking windows. One resident had a car window broken because an empty purse was left in the car. Thieves did a weapon, but it is not legal to use deadly force :to protect property. Weapons can only be used against a threat to a person. "Don't confront anyone in the act of a crime," said Malone. "You don't know what they may do" Malone said the city will get Neighborhood Watch signs up, will register the Neighborhood Watch and will help get a phone system in place. He recommend- ed the neighbors meet once a month, probably on a Tuesday or ln ursday about 6 or 7 p.m. Each of those present intro- duced themselves in a step toward neighbors getting to know one another so they can help protect each other and their property. During the introductions, sev- eral related the property crimes they have experienced. Jennifer Hames, Jennifer Hudgins and Amber Goolsby agreed to be captains as they live at strategic lo- cations in the neighborhood and with many of the same problems as this group, asking, "What can we do to help?" He said one resident, Carol Payne, took it upon herself to go door to door to all 27 houses in Heritage Farms and meet every resident. She made sure neighbor knew each other and knew when someone was out of town or had visitors so that it was reported to law enforcement if there was anything suspicious. There have " been no burglaries in Heritage Farms in recent years. Coughe- nour said two other subdivisions in the Bolingbroke area tried to -- start Neighborhood Watches but weren't successful because they &dr/t have that person who 4 would get out and be the point information "Carol Payne is a machine, but you can, compete with Heft!age:: Farms, said Coughenour. The key is neighbors watching and relationships:' LANGFORD ALLERGY, LLC Dr. Jeff Langford EXPERIENCE & EXPERTISE IN ADULT & PEDIATRIC ALLERGY, ASTHMA, & IMMUNOLOGY 201 Tiff College Drive Forsyth, GA 31029 Call (478) 787-4728 MONROE COUNTY HOSPITAL 88 Martin Luther King Jr Drive Forsyth, GA 31029 Call (478) 994-2521 MEYER CARDIOLOGY, PC Dr. Thomas Meyer, Cardiologist Monroe Regional Medical Complex 120 N. 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