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Residents want to put stop to rash of burglaries
Some 40 residents turn out for neighborhood watch meeting
Gainesville Code Enforcement Manager Gary Kansky addresses visitors Thursday night to Brenau University’s Thurmond McRae Auditorium for a Neighborhood Watch meeting concerning the recent increase in burglaries in Gainesville. Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper and Crime Prevention Officer Joe Britt also addressed the audience.

Residents of the Crestview Terrace neighborhood aren’t gonna take it anymore.

About 40 residents of the Gainesville neighborhood met Thursday evening at Brenau University to form a neighborhood watch group in response to a rash of area burglaries over the past month.

Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper said at the meeting there have been 10 burglaries in the area in recent weeks. He said the burglars were apprehended and much of the stolen goods were recovered thanks to informative calls from neighborhood residents.

Crestview Terrace resident Joan Alford is one of the leaders mobilizing the community to unite against crime.

“I think it’s gotten to the point we need to make this a formal type of thing,” she said.

The watch group encourages residents to call police if they see or hear anything suspicious in their neighborhood, such as broken glass, a prowler or someone carrying objects that could have been stolen.

Neighborhood watch is one of the best things people can do to help the police department, Hooper said.

He said both Hall County and Gainesville have experienced a roughly 40 percent spike in crime in the past year, which he links to the poor economy. He said most of those crimes have been property crimes against residences.

“The burglaries seem to be occurring mostly during the week when you’re at work,” he said.

Hooper also told residents the ages of recent burglars ranged from 11 to 49. He said six out of 10 of those burglars were juveniles, and local courts have been flooded with phone calls from residents concerned about the young age of the perpetrators.

Some burglars were tied to gangs, but all recently apprehended burglars were unarmed, Hooper said.

Gainesville school board member Sammy Smith said at the meeting some of the young burglars were Gainesville students.

Gainesville schools transportation director Jerry Castleberry said his bus drivers, who drop off children in the neighborhood twice a day, are assisting police in keeping an eye on neighborhoods while residents are at work.

“We just want to lend our support to community neighborhood watch programs and to lend our extra set of eyes,” he said.

Anyone interested in joining the Crestview Terrace Neighborhood Watch Program or in starting another neighborhood watch program is encouraged to contact Gainesville Master Police Officer Joseph Britte, Jr. at 770-287-0893 or email him.