Group starts community watch to stop theft

Group starts community watch to stop theft

NEW BERN - A group of fed up residents in a New Bern neighborhood have started a new community watch group to catch thieves and burglars.

The group's complaints stem from seemingly constant break ins and larcenies in the downtown New Bern area. New Bern Police patrol areas in the downtown area, but community members are trying to get the word out, that they'll be watching and calling the police at a moments notice.

Much of the support for this group comes from people who live on New Street, a 3 block long one way street just one block from the police department.

"The more eyes, the better off we are," Laura Arias said. "I can't count on both hands how many people have had something taken." Arias was collecting signatures for the group Friday.

"I just hate seeing them get ripped off like this," Arias said.

Despite people complaining about crime, there are no statistics that support a spike in burglaries and theft in the area. In reports from New Bern Police, there were 85 Larcenies and Breaking and Entering cases, between home, business, and vehicle break ins, in 2012. So far, in 2013, there have been 68, on pace to be about the same as 2012.

Also, police say they don't see any difference in reduced crime in the areas directly surrounding the police station.

At Friday's gathering, 27 signatures were gathered from home owners who are now watching for criminals in the neighborhood. Among them are many people who have had their homes, sheds, trailers and cars broken into multiple times in one year.

One man, who asked to be identified by his first name only, said his home has been hit 4 times this year.

"My son had a bicycle and it was stolen literally on the first day I came to New Street," said Jan.

A map from crime analysts with the police department shows no clusters of criminal activity. Police do not believe there is more than an average trend in theft.

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