Car break-ins down 50% in Ashland

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email | facebook

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - The Town of Ashland's police department is crediting a partnership with the community for car break-ins. They were cut in half in 2010 compared to the year before, and police say they know why.

Ashland resident Terri Winston-Abri says, "you want to be able to go to bed and rest at night not having to worry about whether somebody is going to break into your house or steal something from your car."

It's a simple wish that's coming true according to Terri Winston-Abri.  Born and raised in Ashland, she's now a town leader and in charge of the neighborhood crime watch program in her community off Berkley street.  She believes community involvement and a realization that times are changing helped reduce crime.

Terri says, "You have to use common sense; there was a day in Ashland when you didn't have to lock your doors, and nobody was going to pilfer anything from you, but today is a new day."

In 2009, Ashland Police investigated 66 thefts from cars.  That's double the number from 2008.  The dramatic increase prompted immediate action.  Police ramped up foot, bike and car patrols in neighborhoods and shopping centers to deter crime and educate the public.

Lt. James Shelhorse with the Ashland Police Department says, "We handed out cards in shopping center parking lots, had our officers talking to citizens when they were coming from their car reminding them to keep their packages locked away, and their doors locked."

People listened, and car break-ins were cut in half with 33 cases in 2010.  Ashland police hope the community will be excited but not get complacent about the crime reduction.

Shelhorse says, "We don't want people to let their guard down because of that; we want people to stay vigilant, and remember to keep their doors locked and be aware of their surroundings and who's around them and what they leave in their vehicle."

Crime in Ashland decreased by 22 percent overall last year. In addition to a 50 percent reduction in car break-ins, robberies decreased by 60 percent and shoplifting by 57 percent.

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