The idea of building a website that tracks criminal data in local neighborhoods was raised Dec. 16 at the German Village Society's monthly police luncheon.

The idea of building a website that tracks criminal data in local neighborhoods was raised Dec. 16 at the German Village Society's monthly police luncheon.

The issue had previously been discussed by leaders in the German Village, Merion Village and Schumacher Place neighborhoods, which border each other. The "cyber block watch" would serve as an online resource where residents could post criminal activity, from burglaries to suspicious characters roving the community.

Russ Arledge, office manager of the GVS, said the idea is not to compete with, but to "complement what's being done in all three neighborhoods."

Lt. Bob Meader of the Columbus Division of Police expressed general support for the effort but encouraged the site's founders to include the police force, which can offer crime-prevention recommendations.

Dwight Garner, a member of the Schumacher Place Civic Association, said the organization, like those of its neighbors, publicizes criminal activity through its own website. But spreading the information across boundaries is the objective.

"It's better than what we've got, which is nothing," he said.

Garner said that he would like to see cameras, aimed at recording criminal activity, installed in Schumacher Place. It is not one of the current neighborhoods selected to receive cameras.

He added that the tri-neighborhood crime alert should consider adding Ganther Place, which borders Schumacher Place on the east and extends nearly to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

In other matters, officers said they have been effective in thwarting a rash of car break-ins at Livingston Avenue United Methodist Church.

At the luncheon, safety officials said they had stationed personnel at the church's parking lot, where tradesmen from Nationwide Children's Hospital had been parking their vehicles. They then would get shuttled to the hospital.

Thieves were breaking into the cars early in the morning over the last few months, so officers were keeping a presence there from 5 to 7 a.m. But since the thefts have subsided, officers said they pulled enforcement from the site, though they still have patrolmen checking on it.

Reached after the meeting, Rev. Jim Donnan, pastor of the church, said hospital security also has been patrolling the site.

"There's a lot of presence, which is good," Donnan said.

But elsewhere in the village and beyond, vehicle break-ins are still a problem, especially during the holiday season.

Meader gave a list of some of the items that have been stolen throughout Columbus in recent weeks: toilet paper, alcohol, an oxygen tank and wheelchair, and a 30-pound package of white fish.

Jerry Glick, who organizes the monthly gatherings, said he's routinely nonplused by people who ignore fairly well-publicized warnings to not leave valuables in their cars.

"It's not like this hasn't been communicated," he said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

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