Wagener mayor, council fight back after rash of burglaries

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News 12 First at Five / Monday, Jan. 21, 2012

WAGENER, S.C. (WRDW) -- Like so many others in Wagener, George Smith has noticed the spike.

"Lawn mowers, chain saws, and you know, your small items that they can carry off real fast,” he said.

While he hasn't fallen victim himself, he knows plenty of others who have. The small Aiken County town has seen about 20 burglaries, larcenies or break-ins in the past couple of weeks.

"It's not only in our area, it's in the surrounding area, but we are responsible for looking after the citizens of Wagener and that's our concern now,” Smith said.

The Wagener Police Department has made a number of big arrests in the past week.

"We think that's going to clear up quite a few attempted burglaries and burglaries that have happened over the last several months,” said Chief Jeff Key.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Miller and Smith, who's also a town councilman, are doing their parts, too.

"The street I live on -- every house has been hit but mine, and I think that's because of the dogs,” Mayor Miller said. “We're going to change things."

On Monday, the target was an old mobile home. It was demolished in just about 10 minutes.

"It's a place where people can hide out, and we're trying to do away with those places,” Smith said.

It's just one of many the town is using an ordinance to remove. Owners can pay a fine or tear down their old abandoned eyesore mobile homes.

"We have three more that are already lined up, and we're going after more after that. We're going to clean it up,” the mayor said.

Smith lives only a short distance away, and he's already noticed a difference. He says there’s less suspicious foot traffic in his neighborhood.

"We [are] not there now. It's a process, but we plan to follow this to the end,” he said.

The mayor of Wagener also encourages the town’s citizens to be vigilant themselves. He showed News 12 a motion alarm and motion detection light adapters, both of which can be purchased for about $20 a piece at a hardware store. He says calling in tips to police is essential, too.

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