Social media site helps solve thefts; organizer hopes to start community watch groups
Published 2:48 am Saturday, January 6, 2018
Greg Palmer knows just how it feels be stolen from, and that’s why he started a Facebook group that has been assisting the community in finding thieves since its beginning.
Now, he hopes to work with that group to establish community watch groups throughout Covington County.
Palmer, who volunteers as a reserve deputy with the Covington County Sheriff’s Office, said that personal experience drove him to do something about the community theft problem. The Facebook page is not associated with the sheriff’s department.
“I really just wanted to get the word out about the thefts and crimes in the area,” he said.
“I had been stolen from probably six times, they even stole my daughter’s four wheeler. I ended up driving by a house and seeing the four wheeler outside months later.”
Palmer started the “Stolen in Covington County” group more than a year and a half ago. Since then the group has accumulated 3,256 members.
The group also boasts five other administrators: three investigators, a patrolman and a police chief from Covington County.
The group features posts from members that include anything from suspicious vehicles in local neighborhoods to descriptions of stolen items.
Palmer hopes to establish a neighborhood watch group that will span the whole of Covington County.
“People don’t realize how much they contribute to finding thieves. The key to any law enforcement finding your stolen items is reporting it,” he said.
“The community plays a large role in finding stolen items. The community is the eye in the sky while law enforcement is not around.”
There are not enough numbers for law enforcement officers to be everywhere and that’s why the community is important, Palmer said.
“Your community knows what looks suspicious or if someone is not supposed to be there,” he said.
The Facebook group has helped so far, Palmer said.
“Within the first four months of having the group, we had people posting lookouts for suspicious vehicles and stolen items. We probably solved eight thefts,” he said.
Amongst those was a stolen vehicle that was shared and posted throughout the page and after someone recognizing the vehicle, it was returned to its owner.
Every day the admins get messages about items being stolen, Palmer said.
“My advice for anyone who has been stolen from is to make a report with local law enforcement. That’s one of the most important things you can do. For people who are cautious of being stolen from, invest in a game camera and set it up in a hidden area. Write down serial numbers to your items and keep those numbers in a safe place. Make sure you’re aware of any strange vehicles coming into your yard or neighbors’ yards,” he said.
“People need to know that strangers knocking on your door in the middle of the day either have a reason or they want to see if anyone is home.
Stolen in Covington County will meet at the AMVETS in Opp today, Sat., Jan. 6, 2018, at noon. Sheriff Dennis Meeks will be present to answer any questions and provide on tips against theft.
The group plans to expand meetings with the help of local law enforcement throughout the county.
Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson has already expressed an interest in holding a meeting in Andalusia, Palmer said.
“If we are going to do this we need help from a lot of the community,” he said.
“I hope we can get a neighborhood watch started.”
For more information on the group, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/1737925169754861/.