Citizens want muggings to stop
By Mike McClure
More than 30 concerned citizens filled Delmar’s town hall on Wednesday, June 23, to discuss ways to put an end to the muggings and robberies that have occurred in town over the past two years. The group, which came to a consensus on the name Concerned Citizens of Delmar, also voiced a concern over the small size of the town’s police force.
Delmar police chief Hal Saylor helped get the ball rolling for the group’s first meeting, but he made it clear that the organization belongs to the members of the community.
“This is your organization, you guys have to set it up,” said Saylor. “I actually see this thing growing.”
Saylor also said the organization could utilize the police department’s resources if it chose to form a community watch group. Members of the group do not have to live in town limits to participate.
The meeting was held following a pair of muggings that occurred in early June, bringing the total number of robberies to six in the past two years. Five of the six attacks were against elderly victims on their own property.
The last mugging, which took place at the corner of West Pine Street and South Maryland Avenue in Delmar, Md., on June 12, involved three suspects attacking a non-elderly victim. The other robberies occurred on Elizabeth Street.
The father of the last victim reported that his son still did not have the use of one of his arms due to injuries sustained in the attack.
Saylor updated the residents on the progress the department has made on the case. He said drug warrants are out on one suspect for five of the six muggings, but the suspect has disappeared. There were no witnesses to the robberies and no fingerprints were found, so warrants could not be served for the muggings.
Residents made a number of suggestions during Wednesday’s meeting, including having police target the criminal (since the department has a suspect), getting new people on the Delmar Joint Council to address the residents’ concerns (only one commissioner, Luther Hitchens from Maryland, was at the meeting), and adding more officers to a depleted police force.
According to Saylor, the police department no longer has 24-hour coverage of the town. The department, which will be down three officers starting in July, patrols the town 18 hours a day with one officer on duty at night and one to one and a half officers (schedule overlap) on duty during the day.
Saylor said the police force has been down two officers for the past four or five years and has eight officers (compared to the 14 or 15 officers other departments have).
On Wednesday, the residents questioned where the money they pay in taxes is going with the police force downsizing while the town is growing in size.
One resident asked how much it would cost to have an officer patrol overnight. Saylor said it would cost $29,000 per year for the officer and 50 miles per night in gas.
One thing is for sure: Delmar property owners have had enough. Individuals from the group planned to attend the Delmar Joint Council meeting on June 28 (see related story, page 11) to voice their concerns. The group plans to hold another meeting sometime in July.
Anyone with information on the crimes are asked to contact the Delmar Police Department at 410-896-3131, 410-896-3132, or 410-896-3917 and/or Maryland Crime Solvers at 410-548-1776.
The Delmar Fire Department is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction for a robbery that occurred in the area of 3 East Elizabeth Street in Delmar, Md., on June 2.