Aiken Co. Facebook crime watchers important in fighting crime

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Aug. 31, 2012

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- As the Aiken County Sheriff's Office searches for more suspects in a drug raid across Midland Valley, Sheriff Michael Hunt makes one thing clear.

"These target areas were the result of citizen complaints," he said on Thursday.

Tina Bevington takes that responsibility seriously.

"Only the people living in the neighborhood notice what's happening in the neighborhood," said Bevington, who lives in Graniteville.

She's one of the almost 350 members on the Graniteville-Vaucluse-Warrenville Crimewatch Facebook page, and she's already seen results.

"There was a gentleman down the road that, by accident, he did not know that he was committing a crime by shooting a high-powered gun repetitively in my community, and I just went on Facebook, and I made a comment, and it was reported or seen by the Sheriff's Department," she said.

Sgt. Jason Feemster with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office says the extra eyes and ears are important.

"It's just a lot easier than doing phone calls, because they can put a post on Facebook, and then all the viewers who are members that have liked that page have access to it can see it and can communicate back and forth," Feemster said.

The GVW CrimeWatch page isn't the only one on Facebook in Aiken County. The Belvedere area has one, too, which was used just this week when Belvedere Elementary was on lockdown after shots were fired nearby.

"They were able to get that information out to their neighborhood, and they were all kind of aware of what was going on and to know to keep their eyes open and their doors secure," Feemster said.

Besides spotting crime, he says they do other things, too.

"If people come in, and they're selling merchandise. They'll ask what organization they're with, and they'll research that organization to see whether they have complaints at the Better Business Bureau," Feemster said.

Ultimately he says technology provides a medium that's really beneficial, and that's why, in Graniteville, Bevington will keep posting tips.

There's also a crimewatch page for the entire county.

By the way, Feemster encourages citizens to call in any tips have, too. He says you shouldn't count on your neighbor, but you should call, too, even if that means dispatch gets 50 calls of the same complaint.

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