Wagener mayor says city has 'been robbed of their sense of security' after rash of break-ins

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 4, 2013

WAGENER, S.C. (WRDW) -- Break-ins in and around the city limits have been plaguing Wagener for months and the people who live there are fed up. On Monday night, dozens filled the town council meeting tonight looking for a way to fix the problem.

The mayor opened the night by saying some people lost a lot, some people lost a little, but everybody was robbed of their sense of security.

"This is a lazy little sleepy town -- or it used to be," said Susie Navarro, who has lived in Wagener her whole life.

She says it's the kind of town where you could leave your doors unlocked and your windows down, but not anymore.

"In our church within a 2-mile radius, there's been five break-ins in the past month," she said.

Those break-ins have been happening all over town.

"He hit half the people in Wagener," said neighbor Ann Widener.

"In the last three months, intense, two or three times a week," said Mayor Michael Miller.

Everyone at the town hall meeting was looking for answers.

"I know some of the elderly people in town have been broken into and it's a concern for us because in our church we have some elderly, we have a lot of folks who are home alone, and young children, and I just want to stop it," Navarro said.

The mayor gave out motion alarms and the Wagner Police Department and the Aiken County Sheriffs Office gave out advice.

"Lock your valuables, put motion lights up, if you can , and just be vigilant," said Wagener Police Chief Jeff Key. "Watch out for your neighbor. Get to know your neighbor, see if your neighbor will watch for you."

He says if you hear or see something out of the ordinary, don't be afraid to call 911.

"There's no such thing as a silly call or something that's not important enough," Key said. "It's always important enough. If it's important enough for you to call, it's important enough for us to check it out."

The mayor says after months of fear and frustration, they hope they are sending a message not just to the citizens.

"I think those perpetrators know we ain't playing no more," Miller said.

Navarro says she just wants her hometown back.

"I want it to get back to what it used to be," she said. "We need our neighborhood back, we need our town back."

They made one arrest about two weeks ago and a lot of the break-ins have stopped, but one of the women said if there's one, then there are more out there somewhere, so they just want to be prepared. The mayor says the city has had a big problem with drugs and he thinks that's one of the reasons for all the break-ins.

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