COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Murders, rapes, and other major crimes have prompted community leaders to encourage people in the valley to form neighborhood watch groups.
Residents of District 1 in Columbus voiced their concerns Tuesday night, as staggering crime statistics from 2014 seem to be trending once again in 2015.
"We have individuals that walk around or drive around in the neighborhoods and they are looking for easy targets," said Corporal Randy Brown with the Columbus Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit.
In District 1 alone, there were five murders, 11 rapes, over 1,000 burglaries and nearly 2,000 larcenies in 2014; continual problems that officials believe could be solved with vigilant neighborhood watch groups.
"Nowadays people isolate themselves," said Jerry "Pops" Barnes, District 1 Councilor.
Officers encouraged community members to know how to protect themselves in the midst of a crime problem in the valley. They say knowing who is a member of your community can better help spot those who are up to no good.
"You got to be a nosy neighbor to protect yourself, and the second thing that it does, the neighborhood watches, you maintain the upkeep of the community," said Barnes.
In addition to neighborhood watch groups, police encourage people to make sure their homes aren't an easy target by posting a home security sign, or sign indicating they have a dog in their lawn.
They also encourage community members to make criminals looking for a home to break into skip over their house by making it seem like someone is home.
"Any type of noise of if they can put their lights on timers and change that up so to give the allusion that somebody is at home even if they're not," said Brown.
Officers are gearing up to meet local neighborhood watch groups in August during the National Night Out event where law enforcement teams visit block parties around the community.