Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 28, 2013

Crime program looks to take next step

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A crime prevention program is now looking to make a bigger splash with the aim being a wider sweep across Garvin County.

This next stage starts with signs going up for a neighborhood watch program for rural homes and businesses in the county.

Initiated by the Garvin County Sheriff's Department, the idea behind the program is to better educate the public on ways to prevent crime before it even happens.

This next phase of the program is bring more awareness by putting up signs.

“Now we've got the signs, and we're starting by putting them out around the county,” said deputy and program coordinator Steve Mayhan.

The signs, many of which are now going to residents, are being placed near homes and businesses in the rural areas of the county.

“They're mainly putting them up close to their homes on fences.”

Mayhan believes the signs are effective because it tells criminals those folks are starting to band together in a more organized effort to fight crime.

“These signs definitely deter burglary,” Mayhan said.

“Neighbors in the county are teaming up and watch out for each other,” he said.

“I think people are tired of burglaries. If we do this together we can make a difference.”

One example comes from the Steelco business located west of Paoli.

Dianne Ballast, general manager of Steelco, is one who says teaming up with law enforcement has made all the difference in the world.

“It's an education,” Ballast said. “That's what this is.

“We were actually burglarized once. At that point we coordinated with the sheriff's office to update our security system and cut down on our chances of being hit again,” she said.

Sheriff Larry Rhodes has said that's the whole idea behind this neighborhood watch program, whether it's for residences or businesses.

“We want to do a better job of education, awareness, prevention,” Rhodes said.

“We want to increase awareness on crime prevention. Our staff is going out and working to increase awareness with our county residents on crime prevention.

“We want to get out there and better interact with residents.”

One part of the program is an effort to help residents get their personal belongings organized by way of inventory sheets.

The sheriff's office in Pauls Valley is making the sheets available so residents will have at their finger tips all the specific information, such as serial numbers or distinctive markings on items, for their property in case a burglary does occur.

Rhodes has stressed this information can be vital in helping to track down any items stolen in a burglary.

Another part of the program is to provide the public with tips on how to lower the chances of being the target of thieves.

The sheriff and his staff are encouraging the public to contact the office when they see something that's out of place or not right.

“We encourage people to call us on anything suspicious,” he said.