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Sand Hills residents lament crime in community

Numbers show increase since 2009

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Sand Hills is not the neighborhood Betty Tyler once knew.

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Alice Stills (middle right) plays a game of keno at the Sand Hills Community Center on Wheeler Road. Many residents won't go out after dark because they feel the community has become more dangerous in recent years.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Alice Stills (middle right) plays a game of keno at the Sand Hills Community Center on Wheeler Road. Many residents won't go out after dark because they feel the community has become more dangerous in recent years.


Her sense of security has been shaken by the flashing lights of police cruisers, groups of men on street corners and the pit bulls neighbors have bought for protection.

"There didn't used to be so much crime," Tyler said Wednesday afternoon during a game of keno at the Sand Hills Community Center.

Other women at the table said they didn't feel safe going out at night anymore, including Louise Garrett, whose parked car was hit by a bullet a few weeks ago.

Crime was blamed for a downturn in business that eventually led to this week's closing of the WifeSaver restaurant on Highland Avenue. In November, an employee at the restaurant was shot during a robbery, then a teenager was shot on Wheeler Road a few weeks later.

The president of WifeSaver said fewer customers came after that, especially after dark.

People who live in Sand Hills, a neighborhood of chain-link fences and narrow roads north of Walton Way, point to the men congregating on street corners as the source of their problems.

Tim Wilson started a nonprofit foundation five years ago called Sand Hills Urban Development Inc. to help renovate homes and blighted areas with grant money. Wilson doesn't think the crime is as bad as it's made out to be.

"It's nothing too serious," he said

Records from the past three years show that 2008 was actually the worst year for crime within a half-mile of the WifeSaver, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. But 2010 was a rebound year for most crimes after a lull in 2009.

For instance, simple battery went from 38 in 2008, to 19 in 2009, back up to 31 in 2010; aggravated assaults over three years went from 10 to two to eight.

Burglaries and auto thefts peaked in 2010 with 30 and 18 crimes, respectively. Wilson said those types of crimes could easily be thwarted if more people participated in the neighborhood watch.

Andrena Carpenter, the president of the Sand Hills Neighborhood Association, said a dwindling neighborhood population and apathy are causing crime.

Sand Hills is home to an older population, and as people die there's no one left to take care of the vacant homes, Carpenter said. That leaves fewer eyes for the crime watch, and as a result gangs and drug dealers from other neighborhoods are drifting into Sand Hills, she said.

The other problem is people who don't care what their front yards look like, particularly those living in government-supported housing, Carpenter said.

"They won't cooperate with you and keep their yards clean," she said.

Not everyone is intimidated by what's happening after dark. Alice Stills has lived on Mount Auburn Street for years and doesn't plan to change her schedule for anybody.

"If I want to go out, I will," she said.

Staff Writer Bianca Cain contributed to this report.

Most committed crimes in Highland area

A look at the crimes committed with the most frequency within a half-mile of WifeSaver restaurant on Highland Avenue:

Year: 2008 / 2009 / 2010

Aggravated assault: 10 / 2 / 8

Burglary: 18 / 17 / 30

Robbery: 7 / 4 / 3

Simple battery: 38 / 19 / 31

Auto theft: 5 / 2 / 18

Criminal trespass: 3 / 1 / 3

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office

Comments (11) Add comment
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bclicious
808
Points
bclicious 01/06/11 - 05:47 am
1
0
Ok, simple enough, the people

Ok, simple enough, the people of sand hills need to form a neighborhood watch, get on a first name basis with all the deputies responsible for that area, ask the sheriff's office what they need, and get proactive enough that they create an environment in which criminals do not feel safe in sand hills.

southern2
8818
Points
southern2 01/06/11 - 07:31 am
1
0
My West Augusta home was

My West Augusta home was burglarized last weekend. My family is on pins and needles. One traceable stolen item was a 2007 Augusta National watch sold during the Masters number 371 of 500. If found please contact RCSO. Thanks.

bclicious
808
Points
bclicious 01/06/11 - 09:06 am
0
0
southern2, What are you and

southern2,

What are you and your fellow neighbors doing to try and prevent this from happening again?

sandhillbilly
15
Points
sandhillbilly 01/06/11 - 09:55 am
1
0
I have to totally agree with

I have to totally agree with bclicious 1st comment. The community has to stand together and form a strong Neighborhood Watch program. According to www.usaonwatch.org, there are five steps to a successful Neighborhood Watch program:

1-Recruit and Organize as many neighbors as possible.
2-Contact your local law enforcement agency and schedule a meeting.
3-Discuss community concerns and develop an action plan.
4-Hold regular meetings and train.
5-Implement a phone tree and take action steps.

The Sand Hills Neighborhood Association needs to start this program very fast.

grinder48
2202
Points
grinder48 01/06/11 - 09:58 am
0
0
Let's cut back funding for
Unpublished

Let's cut back funding for the Sheriff's Office. Seriously though, RCSO needs to get in there and "whip axx and take names". It's ridiculous; that could be such a wondrful little neighborhood. I feel sorry for the good and kind older folks who have to live in all that. That side street (Royal ?) running beside store across from Wife Saver (Pantry ?) is always loaded with (what appear to be) ner'-do-wells. Need to clean it up! (Now if obama could get the economy going, these people would be working instead of loitering, right?)

bclicious
808
Points
bclicious 01/06/11 - 10:01 am
0
0
grinder48, I'll one up ya.

grinder48,

I'll one up ya. Let's just cut their budget by 75%! That would really improve things. Yeah, that would show those criminals.

bclicious
808
Points
bclicious 01/06/11 - 10:04 am
1
0
Create a neighborhood watch,

Create a neighborhood watch, get on a first name basis with all the deputies responsible for that area, ask the sheriff's office what they need, and get proactive enough that they create an environment in which criminals do not feel safe in sand hills.

sandhillbilly
15
Points
sandhillbilly 01/06/11 - 10:26 am
0
0
grinder 48, You are correct!

grinder 48,

You are correct! It does appear to be ner'-do-wells congregating on Royal Street daily (regardless of the time of day). They also congregate at the end of Fleming Ave across from the Sand Hills Community Center. Not sure if they are homeless or what. They definitely appear to be unemployed!

BornInAUG
1
Points
BornInAUG 01/06/11 - 11:37 am
1
0
i think you're only

i think you're only considered "unemployed" if you are LOOKING for work. Buy a gun, get licensed, practice shooting it, get comfortable carrying it, and be prepared and watchful.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 01/06/11 - 12:10 pm
1
0
Southern2 wrote; "My West

Southern2 wrote;
"My West Augusta home was burglarized last weekend. My family is on pins and needles. One traceable stolen item was a 2007 Augusta National watch sold during the Masters number 371 of 500. If found please contact RCSO. Thanks."

Send us a photo and well put it on Crime Reports. Please include any reward amount if there is one. If Sand Hill wants help forming a watch we have incorporated AugustaCrimeStoppers.org to hand out millions in rewards so the Babies mommas (or anyone else)can take a bite out of crime, and support their babies. Crime Stoppers is the most successful non-profit Crime fighting entity in the world. We KNOW it will make a difference if the citizens help us, help them.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 01/06/11 - 05:11 pm
1
0
Something else that caught my

Something else that caught my eye was "other people don't care what their yards look like, particularly those living in government-supported housing." Can something be done about that? Can they be evicted, something, anything? What a bunch of ungrateful people, shame on all of them.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/06/11 - 10:18 pm
1
0
Welcome to the real world.

Welcome to the real world. The rest of us have been dealing with these problems for over a decade in the suburbs. We had two Neighborhood Watches in a sense. The "good guys" and the "bad guys", it turns out were all watching each other, but eventually the "bad guys" outnumbered the "good guys". Not a whole lot you can do then, one of my "good guy" friends said he was going to move his family out of there before he was forced to shoot someone. He was one of the most peaceful, amiable, persons you could ever meet and he couldn't stand the blatant disregard for law and order anymore by his neighbors in 30906.

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