Malena Smith, a Mount Vernon Woods resident, said she began to notice in December an increase of alerts on her neighborhood’s private online social network saying several of her neighbors’ homes and cars had been broken into.
“Many neighbors assumed the increase in crime was due to the holidays,” Smith said. “Instead of tapering off, the burglaries increased and some homes were hit twice in a three-month period.”
Smith, a three-year resident of Mount Vernon Woods, said her neighbors told her some of the items stolen include jewelry, silver, small electronics, purses, wallets and cash.
Many of Smith’s neighbors have lived in the community more than 40 years and told her this level of criminal activity has never been seen in the neighborhood before.
In an email, Capt. Steve Rose, spokesman for the Sandy Springs Police Department, said he “[did not] see a spike” in recent burglary reports.
So far this year, Rose said there have only been four reports of burglaries in the neighborhood. Two were reported in March, one in May and one in June, all at different times during the day and at residences on Cherry Tree Lane, Bridges Creek Trail and Carriage Drive. “This activity isn’t considered excessive. … We consider one to be too many and we look at all of the solvability available to solve them, but this is not considered a spike,” Rose said.
Smith said during a neighborhood meeting in January, a representative from Sandy Springs Police spoke to residents about the importance of being vigilant, watching for any suspicious activity in the neighborhood, and told them to request an out-of-town check from police whenever they leave the city. In February, residents teamed up with police to form a neighborhood watch and installed “neighborhood watch” signs near several entrances the following month.
Smith, who works mostly from home, said she has not seen any police cars driving through the neighborhood. “It’s become so crazy and nothing has been done about it,” she said. “I haven’t seen any [increased patrolling], but the neighbors have said they have requested it.” Matt Lamarsh, neighborhood watch captain for Mount Vernon Woods, said the community held its second meeting a few weeks ago, when members discussed setting a schedule for assigned neighbors to walk and drive around the neighborhood.
Lamarsh said from what he has heard, most of the crimes have been car break-ins and happen late at night. “They are getting into unlocked cars, rummaging through consoles and glove boxes,” he said. “We’re encouraging everyone to lock their car doors and leave their floodlights and motion detectors on.” Lamarsh said the neighborhood social media site, hosted through www.nextdoor.com, has so far been the “greatest tool” in communicating issues.