Crime spurt has Ingleside residents seeking remedies

Residents of Macon’s Ingleside neighborhood have noticed an increase in crime lately, and they want to do something about it.

More than 100 people gathered Monday night to discuss the issue with community leaders and representatives of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

After feedback from the meeting, the Ingleside Neighborhood Association’s board decided to survey residents to find out what the next step will be, said Josh Carroll, the group’s president.

“That’s the main thing we want to get out there, that our neighbors are involved and interested in the well-being of our community, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure crime doesn’t have a place in the Ingleside neighborhood,” he said.

The board is weighing whether to reinstate an overnight patrol of off-duty officers, which the neighborhood has used in the past. Doing so would result in a fee for residents.

Either way, residents had pointed questions for sheriff’s office representatives.

“We’re concerned about the crime spike here in our neighborhood,” said Andy Bradley, who lives near the intersection of Highpoint Drive and Hillandale Circle. “We’re sort of vulnerable in terms of people driving through and seeing what people have.”

He and his wife, Shirley, have built a garage in recent years, but he noted that before that, they had a new refrigerator -- still in the box -- and a lawn mower stolen out of their carport.

Thefts like that one have continued, but five auto thefts between June 17 and July 18 also got attention. Neighbors said they haven’t noticed any significant changes that would explain the increase in crime.

“Although there seems to be more foot traffic than when we first moved into the neighborhood,” said Shelli O’Steen, who has lived on Ingleside Avenue for three years.

O’Steen said she thinks poverty and a lack of employment have played a role in the higher number of thefts in recent months. Both she and Bradley said they’d like to see a more prominent sheriff’s office presence in the neighborhood as well.

“When they were talking about the drone thing, I’d rather see more officers on the street,” O’Steen said.

Col. Michael Scarbary was part of a contingent representing the sheriff’s office at the meeting. He said residents can help law enforcement by keeping an eye on the neighborhood and taking logical measures to protect their possessions.

Describing the incidents as “crimes of opportunity,” he said thieves seem to be checking for unlocked doors and any other way to make the crimes easier to commit.

Sheriff’s offices representatives also noted that three handguns had been stolen from unlocked cars in the neighborhood. Those have not been recovered.

“There is no reason to have firearms out in the open or unlocked in a vehicle,” Carroll said.

Patrols have increased in the area, and while a suspect has been arrested in at least some of the incidents, few details were shared at the meeting. That arrest could affect the neighborhood’s decision for action going forward.

“If they did indeed get the right guy, maybe things will slow down,” Carroll said.

Regardless of the decision, the sheriff’s office requested vigilance and observation from members of the neighborhood.

“The biggest thing in things like this is communicating with your neighbors and neighborhood watch,” Scarbary said. “We can only do so much.”

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find on Twitter@MTJTimm.