Blythewood residents push back against neighborhood crime

BLYTHEWOOD – Several Richland County deputies appeared at an open forum Tuesday night to field questions from concerned residents on the recent rise of car burglaries in the Blythewood area.

Deputies with the county’s Community Action Team (C.A.T.), along with investigators, assured residents that the department was taking the rise in occurrences seriously, and that action was being taken in an effort to combat the crimes.

“We have already begun increasing patrols and changing our hours to randomize crime suppression patrols through both retail areas and residential communities,” Lt. Danny Brown with the C.A.T. stated.

Brown said the department takes burglaries of homes and properties “to heart”, and that any and all tools available are being utilized by deputies.

“We will even go so far as to jump into an unmarked car to start patrolling neighborhoods, and that is what we have been doing over the last couple of months,” he stated.

In addition to patrols, deputies said one of the most powerful ways to combat the crime was through partnering with residents. The C.A.T. boasts one of the most impressive community-oriented programs in the surrounding area. Through the use of smartphone apps and the department’s website, rcsd.net, residents have the cell phone and other contact information to their region’s deputies at their fingertips.

Sergeant Ellis Pearson said the information has been made so readily available in the hopes that residents would take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to deputies if they noticed anything suspicious in their community.

The team currently offers patrols through neighborhoods upon request, and will conduct safety surveys of homes. Still, deputies said, the best approach to safety is being proactive and reducing the temptation for a potential car burglar.

Deputies recommended always locking the doors on any vehicle left outside of a garage for any length of time, and to either remove or hide any valuables inside of it.

“When you look at these car break-ins that have occurred lately, over 85 percent of the vehicles involved were left unlocked,” Pearson stated.

Some residents were concerned that some neighborhoods in the area were being “targeted” more than others, but deputies said that is not the case.

“Nationwide we are having issues with car break-ins, and the trend across the country is unlocked cars,” Brown stated.

Other residents questioned whether the car thefts could morph into more serious crimes that would threaten the safety of residents in their homes, but deputies said that such incidents remain “exceedingly rare”.

“These guys don’t want to be caught, which is why they are opening unlocked cars and not breaking windows. They are not looking to cause a disturbance, so they are not going to go into your home when they know you are there; they want an easy target,” Brown stated.

Deputies did warn that daytime burglaries can occur when thieves believe a home is left unoccupied. To protect themselves from a potential burglar, deputies recommended residents create the illusion that a home is occupied even when they are not, and that in the case of leaving home for a holiday vacation that they do not make any information known to the post office or on social media.

Instead, deputies recommended asking a trusted neighbor to collect mail during the absence and to even move vehicles from time to time if the absence will be extended for more than a few days.