At last week's monthly luncheon bringing together the German Village Society and representatives of the Columbus Division of Police, both the GVS and police urged area residents to call authorities when a crime occurs.

At last week's monthly luncheon bringing together the German Village Society and representatives of the Columbus Division of Police, both the GVS and police urged area residents to call authorities when a crime occurs.

The police and the GVS made the request because some residents are contacting the society first and the police second. Often, residents send crime updates to the society, which then publishes the incidents in its online newsletter, Neighbors4Neighbors.

Police representatives said it is imperative to call the division, as it allows officers to respond more rapidly. It also provides information that is used to determine the level of staffing in a particular area.

"I've seen those e-mails, and I can't tell from those e-mails whether or not people are calling the police when things happen," said Cmdr. Richard Bash. "You have to do that. The e-mail may get to me tomorrow, which doesn't help me catch the guy today. You've got to call us immediately."

Jerry Glick, a GVS board member, agreed.

"We might need to re-emphasize that again, that your first call is to (the police) and then you call the society or e-mail Neighbors4Neighbors," Glick said. "Even though we've done it a number of times, people think we can step in there, but we can't."

Bash said residents should not think they are bothering an overtaxed police department.

"What we need is everyone to be involved every time you see a suspicious person," Bash said. "It might just be the guy cutting your neighbor's grass that you've never seen before and that's OK."

In other matters, Bash said crime throughout the city is on the rise. He did not provide statistical evidence.

"It is getting busier and busier," Bash said. "We are having more people break into cars, and a lot of people break into garages and houses. We are working on both sides of that to catch the guys who are stealing, but to also catch the guys that are buying.

"But, unfortunately, we really haven't been very successfully yet," Bash said. "We are making dozens and dozens of arrests all the time, but very quickly someone replaces them."

Bash said the division needs help with legislation that would help combat crime.

"There are times when we need to have a voice in places where we can't necessarily project our voice," Bash said.

For example, Bash said, the division is working to reduce crime in the city and state, but needs help from civic groups and legislatures.

"Right now, if someone steals something from you and takes it to a pawn shop, even if we find it, that pawn shop won't give it back to you free of charge," Bash said. "We are going to introduce legislation so that if you can prove that item was stolen from you we can take it from the pawn shop and give it back to you when we are done using it as evidence.

"I believe if we require these pawn shops to give you back your property without getting any money, that will really force them to make sure they are not taking stolen property," Bash said.

dcross@thisweeknews.com