Police on guard against car break-ins, street violence with Bunbury Music Festival, Reds in town

Patrols increased throughout downtown

CINCINNATI – Despite two shootings at Piatt Park that got a lot of attention this week, thousands of people going to Reds games and the Bunbury Music Festival at Sawyer Point this weekend have a bigger worry when it comes to crime.

It's having a great time downtown and then getting back to your car to find a window smashed out and your cellphone and computer gone.
  
Theft from autos is the biggest crime downtown -- up 73 percent this year over 2013 -- and criminals say they can strike in seconds, according to police Spec. Frank McGraw.

"We've interviewed guys before. They said if they're in a car more than 20 seconds, they're bound to get caught," McGraw said.

McGraw investigates theft from autos in the Central Business District. WCPO asked McGraw to randomly check a few parked cars to spot potential trouble.

He peered into a few car windows, and It didn't take long to find it.

"It looks like a leather case that you can keep either a little iPad or a computer inside that leather case. They break the window for that," he said.

But police have a new plan for getting an edge on car break-in artists.

"We've decided to have the business owners sign a letter for us making us agents of their property so we can go on (parking) lots if we see people that don't drive cars and we can charge them with criminal trespass," McGraw said.

The best deterrent is to leave electronics at home -- or as the Cincinnati police say in their crime fighting campaign – "put your junk in the trunk."

That said, police are stepping up their presence throughout downtown this weekend. They made a show of force after the shootings Monday and Tuesday - even after the suspect was captured - and they vowed to expand coverage at big events after roving groups of youths committed several assaults and robberies on the outskirts of Taste of Cincinnati in May.

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There seemed to be an officer everywhere you looked on Thursday.

That's good news for the people who run Madonna's bar and grill on Seventh near Vine - a block away from the shootings.

"It hurt my business. It hurt my business tremendously Monday and Tuesday," C.J. Wilson said.

Chief Jeffrey Blackwell promised more foot patrols, quality of life officers, motorcycle units and citizens on patrol this weekend.

Plus, extra lighting is being brought in for downtown hot spots, Capt. Paul Broxterman said.

"Piatt Park, around Elm and Central Parkway, Main and Central Parkway -- those areas of the northern sector where there is not as much development and the lighting may not be as bright as down here in the southern sections of the downtown area," Broxterman said.

A Bunbury organizer told WCPO that music fans will be safe.

"We have three separate entities doing security, including the Cincinnati police, so it's a family-friendly, safe environment," said Brian Kitzmiller.  "It's not anything to be concerned with."

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