Several arrests have been clearing recent armed robberies, entering autos, burglaries and vehicle thefts. The Americus Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) had been working with other agencies to solve the crimes.
The first incident occurred around 3:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at Flash Foods, 1533 S. Lee St. when an armed man robbed the clerk of cash.
At 10 p.m. Nov. 6, a black male snatched a car door open and robbed the driver of a small amount of cash at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and Ga. Highway 30.
The following night, also at 10 p.m., an unknown black make snatched open the door of a car as it was stopped at the intersection of Taylor and South Lee streets. The subject brandished a handgun at the driver and took his cash.
Thefts from vehicles were also prevalent for a period with a rifle, scope and binoculars taken from a truck on Smith Street on Oct. 19.
Another rifle, scope, two pairs of binoculars and a toolbox and tools were taken from a vehicle on Springdale Drive on Nov. 10.
At around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, police apprehended a subject fleeing on foot on West Church Street after a “loud noise was audible in the area.”
Two vehicles were also stolen in town. On Nov. 3, a Barlow Street resident reported her Ford Escape stolen. Inside the vehicle were sunglasses, prescription medication, clothing items, a purse, a laptop computer, a calculator and other items. The following morning, an officer on regular patrol saw the stolen vehicle parked in a vacant lot on New Street.
On Nov. 8, an East Church Street resident reported his Cadillac CTS stolen.
In another case, a local man’s vehicle was stolen twice. The Harrold Avenue resident reported his vehicle stolen on July 10. The vehicle was recovered. Then on Sept. 2, the same resident told police that his vehicle had been entered and its key stolen.
The same vehicle was reported stolen again on Sept. 29.
Americus Police Chief Mark Gerbino told the Times-Recorder, in an interview, that these aren’t “normal events” for the City of Americus, not in the sense of frequency.
“But this is not to suggest it’s not alarming and we are pulling out all the stops to find the perpetrators and arresting those responsible.”
The police chief said that his department is increasing its patrol presence and that the Georgia State Patrol Post 10 has just agreed to handle motor vehicle accident reports for the police department so the police can have more cars on the streets.
“The CID has been working tirelessly for the last couple of weeks on the robberies and the rash of entering autos and auto thefts. The collaboration that’s occurred between patrol, criminal investigation division and other agencies has resulted in the last two days in four arrests,” he said said.
Two individuals were charged with four counts of felony theft by taking motor vehicle and four counts of entering autos. Another individual was charged with commercial burglary and entering autos. Two of those arrested are ages 18 and 19.
Police also confiscated 30 bags of marijuana and a .40-calliber, semi-automatic pistol that had been reported stolen.
“The message here to the community,” Gerbino said, “is to continue to work with us and we will continue to put forth this kind of an effort. We’re never going to be able to eliminate events such as this but if we have the partnerships that we’re developing now with the community, we can decrease the numbers of these kinds of events.”
Gerbino said his department is not ignoring the connection between street-level drugs and crimes such as these.
“We’re stepping up our drug enforcement efforts as well,” he said. “It’s that blanketing of those incidents with law enforcement effort and neighborhood watch efforts that’s going to allow us to keep the crime rates down to where they are,” he said, adding that, as previously reported, that crime is down 53 percent from this time last year.
“The walking patrol effort, having just started, is receiving an incredible reception from the community ... I had anticipated maybe having a little trouble generating enough people to walk ... but at the last walking event we had 14 people. The key now is to sustain those initiatives. Our job is to support the operational end of it” such as scheduling, notification system, training of walkers. “That’s what the Community Services Unit is doing.” He said the success of the efforts would be largely dependent on the enthusiasm of the community and the department’s ability to be operate efficiently logistically.
“The by-product of this effort ... the police officers are walking with citizens and that is a very significant and positive thing to observe.”
One of Gerbino’s main objectives when he was named chief in November 2011, is community policing, which entails forming partnerships between citizens and law enforcement.
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