"I’m mad as hell about it," Brock McPherson said he told the Great Bend City Council recently, about burglaries in his neighborhood. He was the mediator for a meeting Wednesday night about establishing a Neighborhood Watch Program, roughly in the area of the 2600 to 2900 blocks of Forest, Broadway and 16th.
Fifty-some people attended the meeting at the Rosewood Meeting Room on Main Street. A majority decided they want to have a second meeting about establishing an NW "Chapter." That meeting may be held between Thanksgiving and Christmas, possibly later.
There is currently only one Neighborhood Watch program in Great Bend, and it has not met in more than a year, an audience member said.
McPherson said the meeting was about people who have been robbed, violated, burgled. The effort to establish a new program here began with a steering committee. Members include Dennis Neeland and Dana Dawson, as well as several other people.
You used to be able to leave your keys in your car’s ignition, leave your house unlocked, but that’s no longer the case, McPherson said. But now, that’s just "nostalgia." "We can’t afford to do that anymore."
More than a third of burglaries in Great Bend, about 31, have occurred in McPherson’s area/neighborhood, he said. The city, its alleys, streets, garages, sheds and homes have been invaded, he said.
Cooperation among people is a big key toward fighting these crimes, he said, quoting J. Edgar Hoover, and "See Something, Say Something," the Four S’s from Homeland Security.
Great Bend Police Detective Denton Doze spoke, saying that Scott Harper is the police department’s representative for Neighborhood Watch. But he was unable to attend the meeting, so Doze stood in for him. Doze said he led the investigations of nearly all the recent burglaries. It’s good to know your neighbors and keep an eye out for the unusual, the suspicious, It’s good when people are concerned about their community and are looking out for each other.
If a new NW unit is formed, "warning signs" will be posted on street corners in the area. Doze added that 911 calls are usually the start of any investigation, although anonymous calls to Crime Stoppers, as it was noted later, are very valuable too in apprehending criminals.
Brock McPherson said, "we could go to the City Council and ask to have more police officers." Or, they could talk to the county attorney if he is not handling, processing cases fast enough to suit them, he added.
At Willie J’s Bar, north of town, on Oct. 23, a vehicle was stolen, and items from other cars as well. Items from other locations were stolen, too. The 26-year-old man suspected of the crimes lived with his mother in the 2900 block of Broadway.
Doze said the GBPD took "three truckloads of stolen goods" out of the garage at that address, and the man’s bedroom.
The young man is currently serving 120 days in jail on two shoplifting charges, not related to the burglary cases.
It’s usually drug users/abusers committing these property crimes, Doze said. They sell the items to get their next fix.
His or any defendant’s criminal history, his rap sheet, is important in sentencing. Stealing a vehicle may not be enough to send him to prison. Doze said he can prove the 26-year-old’s connection to six of the burglaries. Cases need to be airtight.
Each stolen item is a separate case. However, the county attorney, when he charges a defendant, will "put them together" as one case to be pleaded upon and adjudicated.