NEW MADISON — A recent series of thefts from unlocked vehicles in New Madison has caused some local residents to question the wisdom of the village disbanding its police department early in 2017.
Among the comments left on an Advocate360 Facebook post regarding the thefts asked, “What do people expect if they leave their vehicles unlocked in a little town who got rid of their local police?”
New Madison Village Council decided to disband its police department in January 2017, with the village finalizing a contract with the Darke County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services in March 2017. In doing so, the village hoped to save $20,000 per year.
New Madison Mayor Lisa Garland and the Darke County Sheriff’s Office responded to concerns in light of the recent thefts.
Garland said, “Sheriff [Toby] Spencer has been in contact with me regarding the recent vehicle break ins. I am aware that the affected vehicles have been unlocked when the thefts occurred. Sheriff Spencer has had a deputy on foot patrol after the latest incident was reported.”
“As far as the criticism towards the village over the fact we disbanded the police department, I personally feel there is no correlation between the thefts and not having our own police department. The vehicle break-ins are taking place overnight/early morning hours when there would not have been a village officer on duty anyhow. The Sheriff’s [Office] has done a phenomenal job for the village as far as police protection goes, and myself and council have not heard any complaints — only compliments.”
Sheriff Toby Spencer said, “I am not going to debate the issue of one agency verses another! The only thing I will say is that My Office is taking the situation seriously and taking steps to curtail the rash of current thefts. What those steps are, are not up [for] discussion.”
“As with any investigation, we certainly need information from the citizens. We are finding that some victims are not, or have not reported their crimes. We need their information to aid us in our efforts. We also need citizens to report any suspicious activity immediately! We have officers on duty 24/7 and will respond any hour of the day,” he added.
Those with information are urged to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously by calling 937-547-1661 or go online to www.darkecountycrimestoppers.com and click ‘Submit Tips.’ Citizens may also call the Sheriff’s Office directly at 937-548-2020 and ask to speak to the on-duty road sergeant. A reward is being offered.
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