Citywide crime under watchful eyes

Friday, March 10, 2006

Check Monday's edition of The Brazil Times for the Crime Watch Map.

This map will be used to highlight complaints of criminal activity the Brazil City Police Department responds to during the prior week.

- Police and paper working together to create Crime Watch Map

Residents of the city of Brazil are about to have a new way to help deter crime in their neighborhoods starting with Monday's edition of The Brazil Times and a new weekly feature called the Crime Watch Map.

While the local crime rate has remained stable the past several years, victim precipitated crime, like a car being stolen because the owner left keys inside, is on the rise.

Brazil City Police Chief Mark Loudermilk said that when people do not secure their possessions, thieves take advantage of the situation and crime happens.

"Criminals are out there looking for easy targets," he said Friday morning. "They don't want to make noise in the night, like breaking car windows, to get at valuables left inside vehicles. If the vehicle is locked, they move on to the next one."

Loudermilk is working in conjunction with The Brazil Times to create the Crime Watch Map.

"This is like creating a Neighborhood Watch program for the whole city," he said. "It's difficult to create programs in every neighborhood. By using the Crime Watch Map we can have the residents of the whole city be a part of one by using information provided by the paper. Citizens will be able to help themselves."

Using the map, concerned citizens will be able to keep an eye on areas of the city experiencing a spike in crime in an effort to secure their own property and report suspicious activity to authorities.

The Brazil City Police Department will provide information concerning criminal activity in three major categories.

Burglary -- Unauthorized forced entry into a residence, business or out building with the intention to commit a crime.

Vandalism -- The act of damaging property, or criminal mischief.

Thefts -- Unauthorized taking of personal property from an individuals porch, yard, home, out building or vehicle.

Loudermilk said that a fourth category concerning drug activity, Residential Drug Arrests, will be used when it occurs to alert the public of a possible danger in their neighborhoods.

Citizen complaints and reports of criminal activity in these categories will be highlighted on the map by a number with corresponding details provided at the side. Chief Loudermilk said this information is public record and, by law, must be provided within 24 hours to anyone requesting it.

Managing Editor Frank Phillips thinks this creative version of the old police blotter will be benificial to the public.

"This will help residents pinpoint possibly troubled neighborhoods and help residents stay alert," he said. "We really appreciate the efforts of Chief Loudermilk in providing this information."

Although he brought it to the attention of the paper, the police chief attributes the original idea to a local resident concerned about the rising number of thefts.

"The problem doesn't really hit home until a person can see on a map where crime is in proximity to their home," Loudermilk said. "My hope is that people will take crime prevention more serious."

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