Vigilant Neighbors Helping Police Catch Thieves

6:23 PM, Dec 6, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For roughly two years now the Greensboro Police Department's motto has been has been "partnering to fight crime for a safer Greensboro."

Officers say a botched robbery, thanks to a neighbor, was a good example of that phrase in action and they are hoping for more vigilance from Greensboro residents.

"Neighbors getting descriptions of things that don't look right solve so many more crimes than forensics but forensics is what's sexy and is what's on TV," said Captain Mike Richey.

And because 'sexy' doesn't keep neighbors safe Captain Richey, head of the Greensboro Police Department's criminal investigations unit, wants help from community members.

"Oftentimes, the only way burglaries are solved is through neighborhood vigilance," he explained.

Case in point, Thursday at 3700 Cottage Place: police say a neighbor saw two men breaking into an apartment and called 911.

Officers got there in time to catch the suspects.

"And this isn't the first success story. We've had this year like this," Richey said. "Admore Park, Westerwood neighborhood, Fisher Park at one point or another and old Asheboro. In each of those neighborhoods there've been a set of robberies that have been solved by the community paying attention to their neighborhoods."

Police say that vigilance on Thursday morning not only saved a neighbor's property, it might have cut into a series of home break-ins in the area known to police as the '350 zone.'

It encompasses Lawndale Drive, Pisgah Church and Cottage Place. That area has seen about 40 home break-ins within a one mile radius since September.

Jake Fuller's home is among them.

"I felt violated. My house is my castle,' he said. "A neighbor across the street saw somebody leave my house with a TV set."

But since Fuller and that neighbor didn't know each other well, he says, the neighbor didn't think much of it. After what happened at Cottage Place on Thursday, Fuller plans to change that now.

"I think, definitely that, I will get more involved with my neighbors," he said.

Police stress there's a difference between being vigilant and trying to be a vigilante.

Richey says if you notice something suspicious, call police, observe from a safe distance and don't intervene; also, try to get a good description of the suspect.

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