With the holidays approaching, residents are taking precaution to help avoid crime. Property owners and law enforcement officers met for the third annual Columbia Landlords Against Crime event.
The Columbia Apartment Association accounts for about 2,500 rental units in the city. Since 2003, rental unit arrests have decreased from 4,000 arrests a year to 2,650 arrests in 2011. Law enforcement records show, most crime on rental property occurs in government assistance housing.
Zim Schwartze, program founder, said Columbia Landlords Against Crime hosted the event to promote public awareness. She said the key to a crime-free property is communication between the public and the law.
Time Thomason, A Columbia Police Officer in the office of Neighborhood Services says the community must work together to combat crime.
“It’s all about the collaboration," Thomason said. "We can’t solve crime problems in our city without working together. The police have tried for decades back as time has gone to solve problems on their own. It’s about giving people information and the tools to help themselves and to help us.”
Thomason said the police department’s Neighborhood Services office is drafting a four-step strategy plan to create a safer renting experience. The strategy also includes improving and maintaining the conditions of properties. Thomason also said landlords should thoroughly screen residents, set strict rules, avidly enforce them and take action against those who violate the regulations set. The program has been in effect for approximately 15 years.