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Crowded areas around Augusta are subject to theft

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While working at the Soul Bar downtown earlier this year, Graydon Bannister saw a man break into three cars parked nearby.

Bannister immediately called the police, and the suspect was taken into custody.

Car break-ins and the theft of items such as credit cards and purses are the two most common crimes in entertainment areas, said Capt. Scott Peebles, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. An Augusta Chronicle analysis of crime data from the sheriff's department shows these were the most reported incidents over a 12-month period in four of the five areas that house the bulk of Augusta's entertainment and shopping.

At Augusta Mall, however, shoplifting is the highest incident of crime, followed by property theft.

Peebles said places that draw a lot of people usually have crime. He said incidents in these entertainment and shopping areas get more media attention, which causes a false perception of high crime.

"Most of the crime you would see on a level like that are nonconfrontational types of crime where the victim never has contact with the suspect," Peebles said.

First Friday is an event that typically attracts a large crowd and has drawn scrutiny. In the 12 months analyzed by The Chronicle , there were five property thefts committed during the downtown Augusta event.

"We know there's going to be a greater number of people out and about, so we adjust our patrols," Peebles said.

A strong police presence on First Fridays keeps crime down on those nights, Bannister said, but sometimes police are slow to respond when she calls at other times.

"I'm not scared one bit of going downtown," she said. "There's just as much trouble anywhere else as there is downtown."

If someone has a cell phone or purse stolen, it usually happens when they're not paying attention to their belongings, Bannister said.

Vigilance could help prevent some of the crimes, said law enforcement officers.

A "stretched-thin" law enforcement cannot prevent all crime from occurring, Peebles said. People should be aware of their surroundings, avoid carrying large sums of cash and credit cards and refrain from leaving valuables in vehicles, he said.

Lt. Tony Walden, of the property crimes division for the sheriff's office, said some people choose to park their vehicles in areas more susceptible to break-ins during events downtown.

He said he noticed a significant number of break-ins to vehicles parked along streets and empty lots surrounding James Brown Arena, rather than in the center's paid parking lot, during a recent concert.

Businesses in other entertainment areas take precautions to protect their customers from crime.

Cindy Fiske, the owner of Somewhere in Augusta on Washington Road, said the bar hires an off-duty police officer although she generally thinks crime isn't high in Augusta.

"I know crime is present on Washington Road, but we have never had a problem," Fiske said.

At Augusta Mall, overall security incidents have decreased compared with last year, said Linda Hardin, the general manager.

The mall utilizes trained security officers and surveillance cameras, she said.

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Thefts in Augusta entertainment areas

Statistics from June 2010 through June 2011 in the main entertainment/restaurant/shopping areas of Augusta show the most prevalent crime in those areas was larceny. The five areas include:

- The 2700 block to 3200 block of Peach Orchard Road

- Augusta Mall, 3450 Wrightsboro Road

- Downtown Augusta including blocks between 7th and 13th streets from Riverwalk to Ellis Street, and the blocks bordering James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium

- Agerton Lane and Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway (which includes the Augusta Exchange shopping center)

- The 2700 block to 3200 block of Washington Road

LocationTheft From VehiclesTheft From BuildingsOther Offense
Peach Orchard401443
Augusta Mall222750
Downtown-a1052764
Washington Road1313562
Augusta Exchange47448
Downtown central business district-b43--9

a-exact address; b-no exact address

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office

Comments (43) Add comment
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dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 07/17/11 - 05:36 pm
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o Hi, seenit! Off seeing my

o Hi, seenit! Off seeing my four grandsons last coupla weeks- not missing the drama here. Missing all the lovely ladies of the board, though.

o Patty-P, the main reason the substation at Regency failed was simple overload. By the time the police and management decided to act, it was too late; the criminal element (how PC is that?) had frightened off the customers. Their buying habits shifted to the Augusta Mall and the area adjacent on Augusta West Parkway, where Target, Barnes & Noble and Old Navy I believe were newly opened. Once customers shift away, it is nearly impossible to bring them back.

The same attitude is prevalent at Augusta Mall; if we don't acknowledge the problem, none exists. They spend a LOT of dollars locally, and unless something (like the recent fight) goes viral, it is highly unlikely there will be any but passing mention in local news. A recent post referred to groups of youth, four or five abreast, bulling through the mall, forcing shoppers to either turn around or press against the stores as they pass. This was the case at Regency; the young people called this amusing activity 'sweeping.' It was a sign of their control of the turf.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 07/17/11 - 06:14 pm
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dstewartsr....I'm surprised I

dstewartsr....I'm surprised I havn't come across any of these so-called 'sweepers', as I do go to the mall often to get my nails done. Pray for them if they attempt that mess with me.

As far as acknowledging that a problem exists, I think that's why we have the problems we do around this city. It seems that most are in denial about the problems. Always 'downplaying' situations when actually they should behind the scenes trying to come up with a game plan to nip things in the bud. Why wait for things to escalate out of control?

madgerman
236
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madgerman 07/17/11 - 07:37 pm
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Oh where is that sheriff from
Unpublished

Oh where is that sheriff from Arizona when we need him? Why not use the fair grounds downtown as a razor wire /electrified fence enclosed tent city for these scum? P.S. they shpuld have no visitors either except their taxpayer funded lawyers while there either. Yea let them sit on their bunks with no tv, stereo, A/C etc until their sentence is completed. When are we going to get a sheriff that is capable of thinking outside of the box. All we ever hear is that something can't be done because he needs more money. I personally like the sheriff, but I believe we should consider new management of our assets.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 07/17/11 - 07:59 pm
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They don't need more money.

They don't need more money. They just need to enforce, quit turning a blind eye, and condoning criminal activity. Go after the CRIMINALS. I don't know what the problem is really, but I'm beginning to think there is something going on behind closed doors. More value is being placed on the lives of repeat criminals in this area than the law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. THE BIG PICTURE: the county is left with the great majority of drug dealers, burglars, and thugs who AREN'T CONTRIBUTING to the county payroll with their hard earned tax dollars. Therefore they will lose officers with budget cuts and will continue to lose officers and other funding, while all the while increasing the need for more because they have allowed the dealers to run the show and multiply. The law-abiding, tax-paying citizens are packing up moving out of the county as fast as they can because of the state of affairs. So I say they don't need more money, just do what they should have been doing all along.

hockeymann
226
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hockeymann 07/17/11 - 11:10 pm
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Noticed about the highest

Noticed about the highest crime areas were downtown, and according to
the detective, on streets parked near the JB Arena, etc. Really does make us want to hurry to that new downtown baseball stadium, where
we're certain to have to park on downtown streets, with no free parking
otherwise....On the other hand, I've never noticed any trouble with cars at Lake OLmstead Stadium, in the big free parking lot with security folks
in the area at all times...Wow! I know folks can't wait to park at the new
downtown stadium, so our cars can be broken into, tires & rims stolen.
We're just missing all the fun watching baseball at Lake Olmstead with our free, secure parking, when we could be taking all those chances at the downtown location..Probably even run into some muggers like they
do at the Riverwalk area...All this, and probably no more than a few million in tax dollars to supplement Ripken's balance sheet. At the least,
we could end up paying $7 to park like many in Greenville do.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 07/17/11 - 11:25 pm
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Please don't leave a gun in

Please don't leave a gun in your car. If you must, LOCK IT IN YOUR TRUNK or have a special gun safe installed in your car. Remember, the gun you prevent from being stolen is the gun that can't be used on you. The SAFEST place for your defense is ON YOUR BODY. Support Butch Palmers push to be more understanding of folks who want to carry their defence in public and utilize the stand your ground law.

Don't harass them or violate their rights if they are licenced to carry, officers.

These citizen Crime Stoppers may be the only back-up that comes if the thugs WHO DO OUTNUMBER YOU, a thousand to one get the drop on you or YOUR FAMILY.

GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 07/17/11 - 11:25 pm
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Patty, you said it right
Unpublished

Patty, you said it right there ... "More value is being placed on the lives of repeat criminals in this area than the law-abiding, tax-paying citizens" That's the bleeding heart mentality that has taken over and ruining this country. Nothing can be done until we get lawmakers who wont bow down to this bleeding heart PC crowd.

Riverman1
82442
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Riverman1 07/18/11 - 05:08 am
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I think what Peebles is

I think what Peebles is saying is if everyone would move out of Richmond County they could do a better job policing.

seenitB4
85748
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seenitB4 07/18/11 - 05:44 am
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river.....I think pretty soon

river.....I think pretty soon everyone will be out of Richmond county....

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 07/18/11 - 08:01 am
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Riverman...your comment made

Riverman...your comment made me laugh. This is going to be a great day. :)

AutumnLeaves
7143
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AutumnLeaves 07/18/11 - 10:25 am
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I was advised by a law

I was advised by a law enforcement officer that sometimes the only thing left to do is move. He did when someone was murdered on his own street, to another county in the middle of nearly a dozen acres. Not all of us can afford to do that. I notice a lot of Richmond County officers live all over Columbia County. They believe it is safer to live out there so they moved there. They should know. But where does that leave us?

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 07/18/11 - 10:43 am
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Autumn...eventually crime

Autumn...eventually crime will trickle over to Columbia County too.

Brad Owens
4290
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Brad Owens 07/19/11 - 07:05 am
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The fact is, the new stadium

The fact is, the new stadium downtown would increase crimes in an already crime ridden area.

Riverman1
82442
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Riverman1 07/19/11 - 07:16 am
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Brad, yep. I can't find one

Brad, yep. I can't find one report of a car ever being vandalized or someone being robbed at a game at Lake Olmstead Stadium. At a new stadium at the GGHF site with people parking all over on the streets, I'll bet there won't be a single game where that doesn't happen.

seenitB4
85748
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seenitB4 07/19/11 - 08:12 am
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Buckhead in Atlanta...Inman

Buckhead in Atlanta...Inman park in Atlanta....both nice areas -some gated....just had 60+ cars breakins....this is going on in the burbs of Atlanta also....It is coming to your area.....it seems to be the crime of choice...you know..like the flavor of the day for jerks!

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 07/19/11 - 10:49 am
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RM1, I wonder why the mayor

RM1,

I wonder why the mayor support bringing MORE crime downtown?

Brad

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