Kings Contrivance invites police to discuss crime EAST COLUMBIA

April 13, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Kings Contrivance village leaders have asked county police officials to come out next week and tell them what the department is doing to combat crime and what neighbors can do to help.

The village board wrote to Police Chief James Robey to express concern over a "recent rise in crime" in the village.

Residents have contacted the board about the unsolved Feb. 16 armed robbery at a McDonald's restaurant in the village center and vehicle break-ins on Clocktower Lane and at the park-and-ride lot at Broken Land Parkway and Route 32, said village board member Edward F. DiCarlo in the letter.

Board members are particularly interested in learning how frequently the village center and park-and-ride lot are patrolled.

"We just want the police department to talk about what they do," said Mr. DiCarlo. "It's not adversarial. We want to work with the police department. We're not trying to make a big deal or get everyone excited," he said. "It's more informational than anything."

Mr. DiCarlo suggested that citizens' watch groups could be organized. Kings Contrivance village officials tried to stimulate interest in that concept last fall, but received few calls from residents.

Capt. Richard Hall, who plans to attend the board's April 21 meeting, along with Maj. Mark Paterni, said the department can offer a "general picture" of what type of crime is occurring in the area.

The discussion is expected to take place at Amherst Hall after a 7 p.m. candidates' forum.

"Mostly we want to hear what the concerns are, then act on those," said Captain Hall. "It's more important to hear from citizens, then deploy resources," rather than assign patrols based solely on statistics, he said.

Sgt. Gary Gardner, a police spokesman, said the department doesn't have statistics compiled for crime in Kings Contrivance since patrols don't break down geographically along Columbia village boundaries.

He said theft from automobiles is not uncommon for a community of about 80,000 people, and that the crime isn't concentrated in any part of Columbia but occurs throughout the unincorporated city.

Car break-ins have been a common problem at park-and-ride lots throughout the county, even in rural western Howard, he said.

At times, the department has assigned officers to patrol a particular lot, resulting in arrests, he said.

"If there are five thefts in one night, that doesn't justify surveillance detail," Sergeant Gardner said. "But if a pattern emerges in a particular community or area, and manpower permits, we try to set up a detail to address the problem."

He said the department set up a detail for about two months in late 1992 in response to a spate of burglaries and car thefts in east Columbia residential areas. About 25 arrests were made, and the problem subsided, he said.

The McDonald's robbery is believed to be linked to a Feb. 21 armed robbery of the Columbia Palace 9 movie theater, Sergeant Gardner said.

The restaurant was robbed at 11 p.m. by two men, who forced the manager to open a safe and turn over money, then forced the manager and several other employees into a walk-in refrigerator.

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