Police asking citizens for help in stopping Sandy Springs burglaries

Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult couldn’t have had better news – or a better example of what his department needs – for residents who attended a meeting Wednesday night to learn about a recent string of daytime burglaries.

His officers arrested three men late Monday night, following a burglary earlier in the day, based on a description of their truck by alert neighbors.

Brothers Jalim and Salim Hamlett, ages 38 and 35, and Kareem El-Amin, 19, remained in Fulton County Jail Thursday on charges of burglary. They are under investigation for at least one other burglary, too.

“The community is our eyes and ears that something isn’t right,” Sult said. “Who better to gauge what’s normal or not normal in a neighborhood than the people who live there?”

Burglaries are actually down in the area of Sandy Springs south of I-285 and the western part of the city north of the Perimeter: 74 during the past three months, compared to 78 in the same time period last year.

But in the southwestern part of the city, burglaries spiked 50 percent in July alone, from 10 to 15 in a that month.

That prompted police to send out alerts and schedule the town hall meeting, where about 200 residents got tips from police and prosecutors on how to help crack down on the crime.

Sult said the burglars have been scoping out homes they believe are vacant, especially in the morning. They knock on the doors, trying to make sure no one is home, before forcing their way in, typically from the back of the houses.

The burglars quickly grab big-ticket items – flat-screen TVs and jewelry – and dash out, knowing most of the homes are equipped with alarms that have already alerted police.

No one has been seriously injured, though a burglar punched one woman working in a home office after she surprised him during his crime.

“It’s important to get this information out and get our citizens engaged, because that’s what strengthens the community and is going to deter future acts,” said councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny, whose district includes the southwest part of the city.

Residents have already taken the advice to heart, sharing e-mails and talking about how to get involved.

Pat Daly, who runs the website for the Mt. Paran-Northside Citizens Association, made sure to include in her e-mail and web posting information about how involved police were and how much residents could help.

Daly, who has lived in the city for 32 years, said that information turned her from being “alarmed to optimistic” about the crimes.

“The way I look at it, we are the intelligence and they are the enforcers,” Daly said. “They allayed our fears by showing how we can work together to put an end to this.”

Burglaries in Sandy Springs

District 3 (northwest of I-285): 28 in June, July, August 2009; 18 in June, July, August 2010.

District 5  (southeast of I-285): 23 in June, July, August 2009; 30 in June, July, August 2010.

District 6 (southwest of I-285): 27 in June, July, August 2009; 26 in June, July, August 2010.

Source: Sandy Springs Police Department crime reports