South Charlotte seeks sixth straight year of crime reduction

Police in south Charlotte’s South Division have three weeks left before they can claim their sixth straight year of seeing a decline in local crime. But the last few months are catching up with them.

South Division, which covers the Ballantyne area and most Charlotte neighborhoods south of Fairview Road, has recorded a 4 percent reduction in crime so far this year compared to 2012. Around 90 percent of the crime in the area are property crimes, mainly home and vehicle break-ins, and the division has seen a drop in both this year, with two fewer residential burglaries and 10 fewer vehicle larcenies.

But the last quarter has not been kind to area police, as home and vehicle break-ins start to tick upward compared to 2012. Captain Jim Wilson, who leads South Division, attributes the increase to the area’s recent crime trend success. It’s hard to keep up the low statistics the area has seen over the years, Wilson said, as the division had the second biggest reduction in crime for the whole city last year.

Currently, the division is ninth in the city for the biggest reduction. Finishing strong these last three weeks will be key for South Division remaining on track.

“The whole third quarter, October, November and December, has been a rough quarter,” Wilson said. “But we’re still looking at a reduction.”

South Division is a diverse area, broken up into three response areas. Response Area 1 is mostly neighborhoods just south of Fairview Road. Response Area 2, mostly Ballantyne, is heavily commercial. Response Area 3, which includes the Raintree area and Arboretum, is a mix.

“The troops have really gone out and done a very good job, starting with the lieutenants and the way they’ve developed goals and plans and worked with supervisors to implement those plans,” Wilson said.

One key project this year in South Division has been the officers’ focus on heroin use. Heroin overdoses have increased in south Charlotte, Wilson said, which leads to people often committing crimes to support their habit. Sgt.

Nathan King, who leads the Ballantyne Response Area 2, crafted a plan to not only target heroin use offenders, but help them receive treatment to “try and break the cycle,” Wilson said. Officers also have pushed the anti-drug message in area schools, and though Wilson said it’s hard to quantify what impact the effort has made, he feels it’s been a success.

“It’s given us another tool to target people who are committing property crimes,” he said.

Wilson said it’s impossible for police to be everywhere, unless south Charlotte taxpayers want to see their bills increase to afford putting a cop on every corner. So, police will use the next best thing.

“We do have citizens on every corner, and when they see something suspicious or out of the ordinary they should use 911 and give us a call,” he said. “If it’s somebody who is up to no good, at least they know … if they are thinking about committing crimes and ‘I’m in this neighborhood and every time I show up the police are here, so I’m going to go somewhere else.’”

Wilson also urges residents to remove valuables from their vehicles and to record the serial numbers of valuables to help police track property when stolen goods are recovered.

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