NEESES – "Thieves, Thugs and Drugs" was the title of the program at the Neeses Crime Watch meeting on Oct. 9.
Neeses resident Sandra Griffith and Capt. Joe Green of the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office presented the program to an audience of more than 30 Neeses and Livingston officials and citizens at Neeses Town Hall.
They discussed strategies for fighting crime in western Orangeburg County, including illegal drugs like methamphetamine and break-ins and robberies.
“The stealing in this area is for thieves to get quick cash for their drugs … , said Griffith, who has filled as a candidate for a seat on Neeses Town Council in the Nov. 7 municipal election. "Thugs don’t want to work and support themselves and their families. They want to have what is ours.”
She added, “They are stealing for meth, Oxycontin and other addictive substances."
“Most of my council members have had something stolen. I have, too!” Livingston Mayor Bobby Gordon said.
Before and after photos of meth users ravaged by the drugs were affixed on a wall behind Griffith as were photos of houses she described as "meth shacks."
Griffith said meth users often live in rundown homes and have a lot of trash on their property, including empty plastic bottles and household cleaning supply bottles. Their property often has an odor similar to electrical wiring burning and/or ammonia, she said.
“If you smell these types of odors, call 911 and tell the dispatcher about the suspicious activity going on ... and ask the deputy to ride down the road and not come to your house,” Griffith said.
Other signs that meth may being manufactured in a residence include boarded up windows and windows that are painted black to prevent anyone from seeing the illicit activity that is going on inside, she said.
Griffith noted, “They also have vicious dogs guarding their property, and sometimes people guarding it as well."
Green added, “When you have a drug operation going on, you cannot just kick the door down. You have to get search warrants to go into that particular house. In our paperwork, we have to list what buildings we are going in.”
“Once we get the paperwork in, that’s a different story. Always remember that I would rather take five years and make a good case (against drug dealers) than two days and maybe a bad one,” he said.
Green continued, “I am not as worried about the ones caught with a small amount during a traffic stop. It’s these other people that are selling large quantities of drugs that are destroying our communities.”
He said it's important for citizens who suspect criminal activity to call 911 and report it to law enforcement. For those concerned about reprisals from criminals, Green recommended they call the Sheriff's Office to let them know they are a concerned citizen who doesn't want a deputy to come to their residence but would like a deputy to patrol a certain area.
Toward the end of the Crime Watch meeting, those attending identified specific crime areas on maps of Neeses and Livingston. The high-crime areas identified included the ball fields in Neeses, where it was noted that drug transactions have occurred and an area on Neeses Highway, where drug dealers live and sell drugs.
Griffith and Green also made the following recommendations:
- Keep a record of the serial numbers on four-wheelers, tractors, lawn mowers and bicycles, etc. On personal property that does not have serial numbers, Green recommended owners etch their own alpha-numeric or numeric codes on it or place codes on strong labels affixed to the property.
- Keep photos of all valuables where the serial number or self-created code is visible.
- Keep inventory sheets of all valuables with descriptions and serial numbers/codes.
- Ask the Sheriff's Office to look for stolen property at the stolen goods facility in Orangeburg if property is missing.
- Watch for "skimmer" devices that thieves use to steal bank transaction card information on card readers at businesses and gas stations. Skimmers are usually attached to actual card readers and are loose, Green said.
- Don’t open your door to a stranger in the middle of the night. Lock all doors, including vehicle doors, and do not leave your car running while you run into a business or other location.
- Consider getting a security system. You can also activate the alarm button on your vehicle's remote if a trespasser is in your yard.
- Get personal alarms that you can carry on your key-ring or in your pocket.
- Those who cannot afford a security system can purchase adhesive alarms that they can stick to doors. These alarms will go off when the door is forced open.
- Write down relatives’ and friends’ names and numbers to keep on a card in your wallet or purse for quick, easy access in the event of a break-in or other emergency.
The joint Crime Watch program for Neeses and Livingston was spearheaded by Griffith, Green, Neeses Mayor Joe Corbett and Neeses Town Clerk Sonja Gleaton. Officials attending included Neeses Town Council members Renee Olenick and Kenneth Gleaton; Livingston Mayor Bobby Gordon and Livingston Town Council members Bobby Young, George Jeffcoat, Maretta Linder and Arthur Sligh.