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Chesapeake residents want to add another officer to deter burglaries

CHESAPEAKE, W.Va. -- When a 16-year-old boy knocked on his elderly neighbor's door during a recent power outage to ask to borrow supplies, he was met with a cocked and loaded gun pointed at his face, one Chesapeake resident says.

That's because many Chesapeake citizens are concerned about their safety after a recent string of home invasions and robberies seems to target elderly citizens in the area.

"The gold is being stolen from their golden years. Most of our seniors are on fixed incomes and can't afford to have $50 stolen," Thomas Burgess said at a Chesapeake Town Council meeting Monday.

His mother was awakened about two weeks ago to find a man in her bedroom stealing her purse. "Whoever is doing this doesn't care that they're home when they break in. If they're that brave -- they're capable of killing," he said.

"Not if they get shot first," one woman shouted at the meeting.

More than 50 citizens attended the meeting -- many of whom signed up for a proposed neighborhood watch program.

Several citizens threatened to take matters into their own hands, complaining about a lack of officers on patrol in the area.

"I know an 86-year-old man who now sleeps with a 12-gauge," Burgess said. "Innocent kids who may just be taking the shortcut through our yards could get shot. I don't want it to come to that. We need help."

Chesapeake currently has three officers that patrol the town, one of which is on duty until 3 a.m. most of the week, according to Chesapeake Police Chief Jack Ice.

But citizens say that's not enough, and many urged Mayor Damron Bradshaw to apply for a grant to recruit an additional officer.

"If we get a grant, it will only last 18 months. After that, the town has to pick it up at a higher price, and we can't afford that," Bradshaw said. "The officers we have right now are what we can afford."

Some citizens demanded specific numbers from the budget and even offered to do their own fund-raising to hire an extra officer.

"Just give us an estimate of how much we need for this to work. We will do whatever we can," one resident told the mayor.

"The budget is tight," Bradshaw replied.

Ice welcomed the idea of another officer, and said in the meantime he plans to change officers' routes to throw off suspects, enforce a stricter curfew and have calls to the Chesapeake Police Department transferred to county law enforcement to ensure better response.

Police are working on some leads but currently have no hard evidence pointing to any burglar, Ice said.

Chesapeake Police investigated a 15-year-old male and his brother who many citizens thought may be suspects, but no evidence was found to charge them.

"This rests with the people in this town. I know someone knows who it is. Just tell us," Ice said.

Several citizens said people in the neighborhood are too afraid for their safety to offer any tips to police.

Kanawha County Sheriff's Cpl. Rick Keglor plans to lead the neighborhood watch efforts.

"These are effective, but you have to put in the work," Keglor said at the

meeting. "We tried this in Marmet and it didn't work. You can't be effective

with only four people. If you work together and look out for each other, this

will be a tremendous help."

Anyone who has information concerning the burglaries can do so anonymously and is encouraged to call the Chesapeake Police Department at 304-949-1496.

@tag:Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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