Criminals target northern Greenville County for firearm thefts

Courtesy: Greenville County Sheriff's Office

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Thieves are targeting rural areas, and now deputies in Greenville County are cracking down on burglaries in the northern part of the county.

The number of break-ins in the Blue Ridge, Travelers Rest, Marietta, Slater, Tigerville, Greer, and Taylors communities are the lowest they’ve been in a while.

“We’ve had a lot of problems with not only gun theft but illegal gun sales of stolen guns,” said Lt. Mike Decker with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.

7News spoke with a man who didn’t want his identity revealed but who was the victim of a burglary. He said thieves took seven or eight of his shotguns.

“It’s been a real bad situation for several years,” said Councilman Joe Dill, District 17.

Data gathered from the sheriff’s office shows since Sheriff Will Lewis took office in January until now compared to the same time frame last year, burglaries in those areas have decreased by more than 30 break-ins.

Burglaries have also decreased over the past year in that area compared to the last five.

“We’ve recovered dozens and dozens of guns and started to shut down some of the operations that have been going from Greenville County to Spartanburg County,” Decker said.

Neighbors in the area created their own crime watch as a reaction to the break-ins. With more than a hundred members, it’s become one of the most active neighborhood watch groups in the county.

“They know who’s in the neighborhood, and they know what are you doing here,” Dill said.

He says they’ve worked together with the sheriff’s office to decrease crime.

“There’re areas that guns come from, and there’s areas that guns go to,” Decker said.

Law enforcement isn’t exactly sure why northern Greenville County is being targeted, but Councilman Dill has an idea.

“Most houses do have, up here in the country, they have shotguns, rifles, pistols,” Dill said.

The burglary victim says he hasn’t seen any of his guns since the thieves broke a window in his door, unlocked it, walked in and took most of his belongings.

“You never know where they went to or whatever, but I hope nobody uses it to do bad,” he said.

However, the reality is stolen guns often end up in the hands of criminals. It’s a cycle deputies want to end.

“Stop the flow of the firearms, then we can take care of problems of where these firearms are going,” Decker said.

Councilman Dill recommends people in his district and across the county write down the serial numbers on their belongings and keep the list in a safe place in case they become a victim.

The next crime watch meeting is this upcoming Tuesday at Ebenezer Welcome Baptist Church.

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