Businesses pan police response
By COREY DAVIS and LINDELL JOHN KAY
Sunday, August 6, 2017
“We got zero help from Rocky Mount police.”
That's how Tim Lamm, the human resources manager for Ceco Building Systems, described his recent experience with police after his company had a break-in.
During the July 8 weekend, thieves broke into the building on Red Iron Road and stripped copper from high voltage wires connected to machinery.
“I called them twice and they never came out,” Lamm said of police, adding he received a call from an officer who took a report over the telephone.
Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore said Lamm called the front desk and one of the clerks took the report.
“The report reads that there were no cameras on the property and due to the time frame of the incident — from June 25 to July 11 — the scene was not processed,” Moore said. “It would have been followed up by detectives.”
Dissatisfied with city police, Lamm called the Nash County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over the entire county.
Sheriff's detectives conducted an investigation, including gathering physical evidence at the scene and staking out the business, said Nash County Lt. Romek Lankosz.
Within 48 hours, deputies arrested four people, charging them with breaking and entering and larceny.
“There was more than $75,000 in stolen property and damage,” Lankosz said.
Moore recently issued a report stating crime is down in the city. Some business owners aren't so sure.
Mirianne Miranda co-owns Miranda's Sweet Addictions, a new bakery on Sunset Avenue.
On July 26, a thief broke out the glass in the bakery's front door, smashed the cash register and took $43.
“When I started telling friends I was going to start a business in Rocky Mount, they said, 'you're crazy,'” Miranda said. “Crime is certainly an issue for business because they're hitting the small places and the new places and trying to scare people — for what? Forty dollars to take from my register?”
The report lists the case as inactive. Miranda said police responded quickly and have been patrolling around her business nightly.
For the past few months, Javelin Guilford has owned and operated the Secret Garden II, a flower shop in downtown Rocky Mount. He said a major issue the police department needs to address more strongly is gang violence.
Moore has said in the past the city's crime rate isn't driven by gangs and drugs.
“I think the real problem happening right now is gang-related and the police department needs to curb the gang crowd,” Guilford said. “It's not random for people to pick out and go rob somebody. It's the youth that's doing it and having these gang rivalries. If the police are going to stop gangs, they're going to have to approach those gangs by giving these young guys some more alternatives to do around here.”
Local real estate agent Kay Owen said she's had potential homebuyers decide not to move to the area because they read on the internet about crime in Rocky Mount.
Owen has lived in the city for more than two decades. She said her own experiences have been positive.
“I shop, drive all over the area, walk my dogs, go to the parks and have not run into issues,” Owen said. “My view is that I think any city is going to have its problems. You can't cut out crime completely. I have to dwell on my personal experience, and while I know that there is always a chance for something to happen, I'm not going to change my habits. I simply stay vigilant whether home or away.”