Facing more than 200 Midtown Columbus residents worried about burglaries and car break-ins, Police Chief Ricky Boren got a round of applause Tuesday as he announced the arrests of suspects in some of the cases.
Boren was among the city leaders who addressed those gathered in the Wynnton Fine Arts Academy auditorium for a crime forum hosted by the nonprofit MidTown Columbus Inc. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson also spoke, but she had the police chief make a presentation and answer residents' questions.
Boren said investigators have caught 17-year-old Corey Jackson, whom they believe to be a ringleader who organizes groups of burglars.
Jackson's arrest for a burglary on Birchfield Drive led to other suspects, including Christian Deontae Ray, 20, and Thomas Jordan Overtree, 19, who also were charged in that case, Boren said.
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Detectives attending Tuesday's forum said they still are searching for Hakim Malik Rahming, 20, and Tyler Rashaun Johnson, 19.
Boren said police got a break in the case when a pawn shop in Milledgeville, Ga., wound up with a gun taken in the burglary.
That led to the arrest of Tyler Blake Ingram, 20, accused of theft by receiving stolen property, investigators said.
Boren also informed residents of the arrests of Jamelle Dwight Tatum, 24, charged in cases reported in the 2200 block of 19th Street and in the 1300 block of Hilton Avenue, and Dontavis DeWayne Tatum, 20, also charged in the 19th Street case.
In response to residents' alarm at such break-ins, police increased patrols in the Midtown area.
Detectives also set aside some other investigations to concentrate on the burglaries, Boren said.
"We've had people working around the clock on this," he said.
One elderly woman said she'd lived in the Dixon Drive area for decades, and was even there during the infamous "Stocking Strangler" serial killings that terrorized the Wynnton area in the late 1970s, yet she never felt unsafe.
Now she has a high-tech alarm system worthy of a federal institution.
"I'm like Fort Knox now," she said.
Boren said he understands why people are frightened particularly by nighttime burglaries, which may occur when residents are home asleep.
"Nighttime burglaries, those are dangerous crimes," he said, noting they increase the likelihood a resident will come face-to-face with an intruder.
Daytime burglaries are much more common, he said, because thieves prefer to hit a house when no one's home.
Some attending the forum said the reports of increased crime are giving Midtown an undeserved reputation as an unsafe place to live.
One woman wondered how its neighborhood crime rates compare to northern and eastern areas, such as Green Island Hills, Maple Ridge and Upatoi.
Boren said none of those areas is unsafe, but none is immune to an occasional wave of theft, either.
"I had a man come to my office one day who lived in Overlook, and his parents and I think his grandparents lived in Overlook," Boren said of the neighborhood just south of Wynnton Road. "And he had tears in his eyes.
"He said, 'Overlook's not Overlook anymore. We've had this crime and that crime.'"
Occasional crime shouldn't drive people out of their homes, Boren said.
"In my opinion, Overlook is a safe place to live. Hilton Heights is a safe place to live."
So are Midland, Upatoi and Green Island Hills, he said.
But burglars hunting for fresh targets will go where the goods are, he said.
"Every once in a while, you're going to have somebody who will venture off into those neighborhoods, and sooner or later, we'll take them out."