City of Orangeburg launches new campaign to help combat vehicle theft in the area
ORANGEBURG, SC (WOLO) — According to a 2019 FBI report, Orangeburg County ranked third in the country in vehicle thefts, with 427 per 100,000 people.
As part of a nationwide campaign, the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety is reminding people to not make themselves a target for a vehicle theft or break-in.
“Given the nature of this city’s personality, I believe it will have a significant positive impact ” said Chief Charles Austin of the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety.
Chief Austin is speaking about a new initiative the city of Orangeburg is participating in called ‘Hide Lock Take.’ The city plans to put up around 100 signs around the area to remind people to help prevent vehicle theft.
“It’s a deterrent effect. Beyond that, those who choose to ignore the warning have to be prepared to endure the consequences,” Austin said.
Shopping malls are just one area in town where the signs will be going up. They remind remind you to hide your belongings, lock your car and take your keys with you. However, this is not the only place in Orangeburg County where law enforcement is seeing vehicle break-ins and thefts.
“If you are going to stop at a convenience store for just 30 seconds, don’t leave your engine running,” Austin said. “Within 30 seconds, someone could have your vehicle and be gone.”
In addition to the signs, the chief says that cameras throughout Orangeburg also help deter crime as well as solve vehicle thefts.
“If I could be king for a day, I’d put cameras everywhere,” Austin said. “We want to encourage our business community to take a look at installing cameras to supplement the cameras we have around the city.”
The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety plans to increase presence in the community and asks anyone who sees a vehicle theft to report it.
“We want to make our neighborhoods a safe place to live, work and play,” said Orangeburg mayor Michael Butler. “Now that we are in the midst of the holiday season, it is even more important to be vigilant.”
Chief Austin reminds potential criminals that the punishment for stealing a vehicle can result in several years in prison.
“What we want to do is ensure that when we capture people who are committing crimes in the community, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent,” Austin said.
Many of the signs will go up in areas that the city of Orangeburg has identified as high profile crime areas, such as shopping malls, gyms, school buildings and more.