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7/5/2018 11:00:00 AM
Summer 2018 brings crime spike in Madison County

Laura Atwood, Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON — A recent spike in crime in his neighborhood is robbing Chris Johnson of a good night’s sleep.

“I can’t sleep. I’m not kidding, I haven’t slept in weeks,” Johnson said recently. “I’m worried. I’m worried about my kids and my neighbors.”

Two weeks ago, Johnson caught a teenage boy in his garage rummaging through his tool chest. It was the first of several instances of suspicious behavior and crime he’s noticed in his neighborhood just east of Anderson near Mounds State Park.

Johnson said his family has spotted strangers peeping in their windows and walking through yards in the neighborhood at night, as well as a suspicious vehicle driving through the neighborhood.

Johnson’s neighborhood isn’t the only one that’s been hit by the crime wave.

Reports of car break-ins, prowlers, suspicious activity and car thefts have increased across the county, according to Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger. There have been 17 reports of crimes, mostly car breakins, in unincorporated areas of the county in the past two weeks, Mellinger said. Crime in Madison County typically rises during the summer. So far this season, reports are up 10 to 15 percent over what Madison County typically sees, Mellinger said.

“There’s nothing unusual about the type of neighborhoods that are being targeted,” Mellinger said. “These kinds of people are looking for the biggest bang for their buck.” 

But the crimes seem unusual to Johnson, who has lived near Mounds with his wife and three kids for eight years. 

“This is a great neighborhood, really,” he said. “It’s safe, it’s quiet. It’s the reason we moved here, and I’ve never seen anything like” the recent incidents. 

On any given night, from three to seven deputies patrol the county, Mellinger said. He plans to request three more patrols for the 2019 county budget. Johnson is worried there are too few deputies to cover the entire county, and the sheriff agrees.

“We have nowhere near enough deputies to cover it all,” Mellinger said. “We’re understaffed and underfunded.” 

Mellinger and his deputies are frustrated with their inability to cover calls and catch criminals. 

“The deputies really bust their butts, and we’re doing our best. But if you’re a victim, it’s still scary. You want to feel safe and protected,” Mellinger said. 

Ever since Johnson found the stranger in his garage, he’s felt that his family and neighbors are vulnerable. 

“It’s unsafe, and something needs to change,” he said.

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