By Amy Wenk
amywenk@reporternewspapers.net

[download id=”6″]

Crime in Sandy Springs is down more than 10 percent from last year, according to statistics from the Sandy Springs Police Department.

“There’s just a great police presence here,” said Deputy Chief Ken DeSimone, who credited the quality of the city’s police officers for the decline.

From January to July 2009 to the same period in 2010, crime decreased or stayed the same in the categories of homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, vehicle theft, arson, violent crime and property crime.

The only crime that has increased was aggravated assault, which was up 94 percent, from 18 crimes in January to July 2009 to 35 crimes in the same period of 2010.

Aggravated assault is defined as assault with the intent to murder, rape or rob, or with the use of a weapon, as well as the act of discharging a firearm from a car, said police spokesman Lt. Keith Zgonc.

“Most of our aggravated assaults involve domestic violence,” said police spokesman Lt. Steve Rose. He said many cases involve alcohol, angry family members and makeshift weapons. “DV [domestic violence] cases are higher this year than before. There may or may not be an adverse contributing factor. People may be stressed out about money.”

There also has been a recent spike in home burglaries in the south district of Sandy Springs.

Two City Council members, Dist. 3’s Chip Collins and Dist. 6’s Karen Meinzen McEnerny, held a meeting Sept. 1 to discuss the issue. More than 100 residents came to the “town hall” meeting at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

From June 1 to Aug. 31, there have been 74 home burglaries in Districts 3, 5 and 6 in Sandy Springs, said Lt. Scott Jamison, south district commander. In the same period last year, there were 78 burglaries in those districts. Although the number is down slightly, police now are concerned because there have been a slew of burglaries in the past two or three weeks, Jamison said.

Jamison said the crimes usually involve one to two suspects, who ring the door bell to see if homeowners are present. If no one answers, the burglar goes to the back of the home to break in. They grab visible items like televisions and jewelry. The burglary takes “four to five minutes tops,” Jamison said.

“If you see something in your neighborhood out of the ordinary, call 911,” Zgonc said. “It’s not going to hurt anything.”

Senior Officer Tim Burell, community coordinator for the south district, gave residents a few tips to protect their homes. He said there are apparatuses that fit in door jams, which help prevent people from kicking in doors. Those devices are available at www.asafehome.net.

Burell also suggested people test their alarm systems every three months and ensure locks on doors and windows are in working order.

“I’m here for you,” said Burell, noting police officers are available to conduct security checks for homeowners.

Another officer, David Johns, told attendees about a real-time alert system called Nixle, which sends emergency alerts to cell phones. To sign up for Nixle, visit www.nixle.com.

For more information about the police department, visit their new website at police.sandyspringsga.org.