Business, police get tough on downtown crime -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Business, police get tough on downtown crime

Police quickly caught a man suspected of breaking into one of downtown's newest businesses. Owners say that should serve as a warning to criminals to stay away.

Business owners say customers can be assured that downtown Albany is safe, and those businesses are working together to keep it crime free.

Downtown Farm Market co-owner B. J. Fletcher presents the Burglary Unit of the Albany Police Department with a cake and gift certificates to thank them for their fast work catching the suspected burglar charged with breaking into her business Sunday.

"I'm just amazed. You know I always knew you cared. And I said, they'll catch them, trust me they'll catch them," Fletcher said.

Investigators say about noon this guy cased out the Market by looking through the front window, and then went around back, pried plywood off the back door to break in, and stole two money bags from behind the counter. The thief ran when one of the owners drove up to the store.

When APD Officer Kalandria Peterson saw this surveillance video, she recognized the thief immediately and 57-year-old Cleveland Lockman was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

"There might be an incident, but you've got some fantastic neighbors and we are going to come together as one. And we're on them," Fletcher said.

Downtown business owners say they worked together to catch Lockman, and are determined to keep crime out of their area.

"We do not put up with it. We do not put up with it. And we all get involved," said Young, USA co-owner Bruce Peters.

In fact, downtown Albany has the least crime in the city, and cops say one reason is all law enforcement offices are close by.

  "You got the Sheriff's Department, the Albany Police Department setting here. You got the District Attorney's office, federal agencies downtown also," said APD Captain Charles Poole.

Downtown business owners want more entrepreneurs to invest and open businesses here, and say they will not let crime be an issue.

"Absolutely. You know this is a great city. Let's all work together and give us a chance to give you a job," Peters said.

The Downtown Farm Market burglary may not be a huge crime, but these downtown owners were not going to let him get away, and they want the Police to know they appreciate their work to keep their streets crime free.

One reason the business owners say people should feel safe in this area, it has so many surveillance cameras. There are city cameras, and the businesses have dozens more all up and down this block.

B. J. Fletcher said she is not angry with Lockman, and she plans to ask the District Attorney to offer Lockman a chance to work off his restitution with a job washing dishes, or unloading watermelons, rather than sitting in a jail cell. We'll see how that works.

Just a few blocks west another Albany small business was the target of an attempted break-in. Someone kicked in the front door at J&W Accessories on West Broad Avenue just before one Tuesday afternoon.

The alarm sounded and the thief ran away, but owner Johnny Watson said it will cost him about $200 to replace the door. Watson says the crime makes it tougher for him as he starts up his business.

"I can not do it if someone keeps breaking in, or trying to break in. It's cost me more money to stop them."

Watson just opened his accessory store two months ago.


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