"Welcome sign" on Broad St. asks people to lock cars

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Richmond County Sheriff's Office recently put up a sign in downtown Augusta that reminds people to lock their car doors. They say that out of all the break-ins they have seen the majority involve unlocked cars. They want to remind people to take an extra step with the hopes of reducing more than just break-ins.

For more than 100 years, Steve Fishman's family has owned Sidney's on Broad Street.

"I'm the fourth generation of my family here," said Fishman.

He says he's always felt safe on Broad Street.

"I grew up on Broad Street we probably have less crime on Broad Street than any other place in the city, including the residential areas," said Fishman.

This is why he was a little confused when he saw this sign that says ‘Welcome to downtown Augusta please secure your vehicle’.

The Richmond County Sheriff's office put it there.

"It's a great idea to use a sign but is that really giving the right image that we want to Broad Street," said Fishman.

The sheriff's office says they want to warn drivers because in the past two and a half months 40 cars have been broken into downtown. 70% of those cars were unlocked.

"We decided to put it there because we looked at different areas throughout the county that are having car break-ins and that is one area where people are entering cars," said Major Steve Strickland, with the RCSO.

The sheriff's office says in many of these cases, guns are stolen. It's not just about stopping break-ins it's also about stopping violent crime.

"Every firearm that gets out of the hands of someone who is legally able to own it and into the hands of someone who’s already committed a crime is that much more likely to be used in further crimes," said Strickland.

While some aren't too fond of it, the sheriff's office says they just want to educate.

"When we want to welcome people to a town we don't want to in the same sentence or breath say be afraid," said Ed Presnell, who lives in Augusta.

"We're just asking for you to take that extra step lock your car and help prevent incidents," said Strickland.