Earlier this week Overlook residents learned about a burglary in their neighborhood within hours of it happening, by reading an email about the latest break-in.
Those who send the messages say it's one of the best ways to disseminate information, regardless of where the crime happened, and it's worth the trouble of constantly updating their neighbors.
Residents of Overlook and the Hilton Heights area have been on the receiving end of such emails recently. Overlook had a burglary on Elmwood Drive Wednesday morning, while one message states the people in Hilton Heights have been victims of burglaries, thefts or general harassment the past few weeks.
"Call 911 immediately if anything makes you suspicious," a Hilton Heights email states. "We really need to get this crime wave solved immediately before the problems escalate and become more dangerous or deadly."
For John Beck, whose Elwood Drive home in Overlook was burglarized early Wednesday, an unlocked door might have been what lured two suspects to his home. He'd arrived home late the previous night and may have forgotten to lock it before he went to bed, he said.
Beck's wife woke him about 5:45 a.m. Wednesday with news their home had been burglarized. Their 40-inch TV was gone, as was his wife's pocketbook and iPhone. Beck said the pocketbook was found in a neighbor's backyard, minus some cash. The credit cards, however, were still inside. They later found the TV in the trunk of his wife's car. Beck figures they took the car keys from inside and planned on stealing the car before a neighbor scared them away. "Apparently, they got spooked," he said.
According to Columbus police, 10 burglaries have occurred in the Overlook area from January to August this year. Three vehicles have been stolen from the area in the same period. Eleven car break-ins have occurred, and 14 thefts have happened, police records show. That compares with 13 burglaries in the downtown historic district area in the same time period. Ron Ward, the Overlook board member who sent the email, said the updates keep the neighborhood alert to crime in the area.
"It's been just kind of a tradition to keep in touch with one another," Ward said. "It's all about keeping people abreast of security."
Ward said he'd encourage any neighborhood to use an email list to keep its residents informed. "It's hard gathering all the emails," he said. "It's worth it to me."