County law enforcement: watch out for each other


The Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to investigate a recent series of break-ins, and wants residents to know that they can be the department’s biggest ally in finding those responsible.

“We’re trying to get the word out to all of the people in the community that we’ve had a lot of burglaries recently,” Chief Deputy Roy Leap said. “We’ve got one suspect in jail, but we’ve got more than one thief in the county. What we’re trying to do is to make sure that everyone knows that when we have anything suspicious going on, we need to know about it then, not the next day.”

Chief Deputy Leap said that there have been a couple of instances were law enforcement may have been able to apprehend criminals either at the scene or nearby had they gotten a timely tip, but when neighbors or others wait until the next day or later, the criminal trail gets cold.

“We need everyone to know that we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Roy Leap said. “We’ve got deputies on around the clock, so they can take those calls whenever needed.”

Deputy Leap said that residents looking out for their neighbors is a huge help in stopping and deterring crime. He said that people should do things like get to know their neighbors and what they drive. Then, if a person sees any suspicious vehicles in the area or parked in a driveway, they should alert law enforcement.

“We need to be notified immediately so we can check those things out,” Deputy Leap said. “We need to be more aware of what’s going on, and the community can be a big part of that.”

Roy Leap said that the burglaries have not been in any specific geographic area of the county, so all residents need to take precautions such as locking their homes, vehicles, and garages and other buildings.

If a person feels that their home has been broken into, they need to go to a neighbor’s or call on their cell phone and not go in the house until law enforcement arrives. Many times an upset homeowner will go in and begin to clean up, but in doing so may destroy evidence that would help officers catch the person responsible.

What do you do if you see something unusual? The Switzerland County Sheriff’s office now has a Tip Line – 427-4427 – that residents can call and leave information about suspicious activities that they are seeing. Residents may also call the Sheriff’s office at 427-3636; or, if it is an emergency situation, Deputy Leap advises residents to dial 911.