Burglaries at Super S and the Shell station within the past week, together with over 20 vehicle burglaries since mid-November, highlight the need for more police officers on patrol round the clock.
The Super S burglary occurred between midnight and 5:00am on December 22, and the Shell station burglary around 5:00am on December 23.
As police chief Milton Willmann pointed out to this reporter in a recent interview, the four regular police officers simply cannot cover all of Blanco—more hours need to be filled by the eight reserve officers. And citizens also need to do their part, notifying police of any suspicious activity.
Willmann blames hard economic times and the proximity of Blanco to larger metropolitan areas for the increase in property-related crime. Having a major highway running through town is also a factor, in his opinion.
He believes there are several groups operating in the area. Suspects apprehended in Johnson City on December 26 were in possession of property taken in a car burglary in Blanco.
Stolen property has also been recovered in Marble Falls and Lake Buchanan. Ironically, the tourist attractions in Blanco, such as the Lavender Festival and the Old Blanco County Courthouse, bring people who may come back later to commit crimes, according to Willmann. “Everybody wants to live here or steal from somebody who lives here,” he observed.
Ways in which more police presence may be achieved include implementing a pay scale more competitive with nearby communities and greater use of experienced reserve officers who are familiar with the community.
Willmann hopes that city council will approve the use of funds already in the budget to pay for more police hours. “We don’t want to raise taxes and put a burden on people, ”he acknowledged, but added, “It may save dollars in the long run.”
Using reserve officers part-time is more cost-effective than paying benefits to full-time officers.
In addition, reserve officers may be more flexible in their work schedules due to retirement from other careers or flexible work hours in their current jobs.
They may even use their own vehicles to go on patrols, since the department is short on vehicles.
Willmann stresses the need for citizens to take precautions to avoid property crimes, including locking homes and cars, locking purses or purchases in the trunk of a vehicle, and being aware of one’s surroundings and anything that seems suspicious.
While he considers Blanco a safe place, with little violent crime, he says it is a good idea to copy down serial numbers from electronic equipment and weapons, and keep the information in more than one place.
After police are called to the scene of a property crime, they take down a list of all missing items, and it is helpful if a record of the items exists. Digital photographs may be helpful as well. Pawn shops keep a database of items that have been pawned, which is updated daily and available for police to track down missing property.
According to Willmann, pawnshop owners cooperate readily with police to recover stolen items.
The effort to apprehend criminals extends beyond the city of Blanco and involves cooperation with other law-enforcement agencies, even the FBI.
The Blanco County Sheriff’s Department has been very cooperative, according to Willmann. He also has high praise for Blanco Mayor Pro-tem Bobby McClung, who he says has supported the Blanco police department “150%.”