The Fayetteville Police Department has found success in its efforts to increase participation and interaction with community partners to make Fayetteville a safer place to live. Much has been written about the Department’s campaign with social media to include the development of its Nixle citizen alert system. In October alone, the Department has issued 30 alerts, many of which are duplicated on the FPDFacebook.com website and on FPDTwitter.com.
There were 11 community news or events announced, 3 surveillance photos of crimes in progress, a missing person alert, a traffic alert and a fraudulent business alert in the past two weeks on Nixle. The most compelling and significant alerts however, were the 13 regarding wanted or captured criminals, seven of whom were repeat offenders who continue to victimize citizens each time they are released from jail. Thankfully, many of these individuals are re-captured with the assistance of vigilant citizens. The most recent success story involving interaction between police and citizens was the apprehension of two suspects who were captured during the commission of a crime where a witness saw the crime, called and stayed on the phone with police giving out detailed information about the suspects as the crime progressed in a neighborhood off Cliffdale Road. Police captured the two men as they attempted to pull out of the neighborhood and recovered two flat screen televisions and a laptop computer that had just been stolen. Arrested and charged with Breaking and Entering, Larceny and Possession of Stolen Goods were repeat offenders with a history of breaking-and-entering crimes. Unfortunately, while pending trial, suspects are often released and will victimize again. Therefore, it is important for citizens to remain vigilant and report any activity observed. From a factual standpoint, more than half of all property crimes are committed by repeat offenders, those who have broken the law at least once before. Yet, based on statistics provided by the North Carolina Department of Justice in 2009, only 3% of those sent to prison are habitual offenders. These numbers indicate that while many arrests are being made, many offenders are not being successfully convicted for various reasons. As the population increases locally with BRAC and statewide in general, the number of victims is destined to increase with trends like these. Chief of Police Tom Bergamine is not only the Chief but also a concerned citizen. He states, “The recidivism rate amongst repeat offenders continues to be a major obstacle we must overcome. It’s important that we have proactive partners at every stage of the system for it to work. I, like all law enforcement officers and law abiding citizens, find this rate of recidivism very disheartening. We need to keep ‘repeats off the streets’…citywide and statewide. District attorneys and judges need the authority to deal with the problem not based on structured sentencing but on a case by case basis. Alternative programs to deter criminal behavior is a great idea for first time offenders but as far as career criminals are concerned, we really need to consider the victims as well as the offenders. Folks that are at work all day making an honest living should not have to worry about the things they are working for getting stolen while they are gone.”
The Fayetteville Police Department would like to remind citizens that prevention plays a big role in reducing crime. Motor vehicle break-ins continue to be a problem within the City and more often, police are finding that citizens do not take simple precautions such as locking doors, hiding valuables or parking in a well lit area. In the Cross Creek District, which is the western half of Fayetteville, statistics show that in 94% of car break-ins for the month of September, the owner’s doors were either unlocked or high-priced valuables were in plain view. In the Campbellton District—the eastern half of Fayetteville, that number was 67%. These factors hinder crime prevention efforts and exacerbate the motor vehicle break-in problem. Many of the break-ins can be prevented by observing the safety precautions listed below:
· Park in open, well-lit, populated areas near your destination. Avoid parking near trucks, vans, dumpsters, and other objects that obstruct visibility and provide hiding places. Avoid parking near strangers loitering or sitting in vehicles. · Park in your garage, if you have one. If you have to park on a street, avoid dark or isolated areas. · Turn off your engine, roll up all windows, lock all doors, and take your keys with you even if you are making a quick stop at a store or gas station, or even in your driveway. Close all windows and lock the trunk and hood. · Don’t leave spare keys in your vehicle. An experienced thief knows all the hiding places. Store spare keys in your wallet. · Don’t leave your vehicle in an unattended public lot for an extended period of time. · Buy a vehicle with interior hood and truck lock releases. Install a secondary hood lock if your car does not have one. · Install an alarm system that will sound when someone attempts to break in, move, tilt, or start your vehicle. Always activate the system when leaving the vehicle. · Check your vehicle if you hear the alarm sound. But don’t try to stop a person attempting to break in. Get a good description of the person and call the police. · Etch your driver’s license number on all removable valuable items, e.g., audio equipment. · Don’t leave your driver’s license in the vehicle. · Keep a record of the VIN, license plate number, and insurance information in your wallet or purse. Also be able to provide the information listed above for any property that might be stolen from the vehicle. · Don’t leave your vehicle title (pink slip) in the vehicle.
- Never leave any contents or valuables in plain sight. Remove cellular phones, audio systems, computers, packages, sport equipment, cameras, purses, etc. Lock them in the trunk before you park or take them with you.