Since the beginning of July, at least 20 thefts have been reported in a subdivision on the south side of Brownstown.
Residents of the fourth addition of the Lucas-Ackerman subdivision agree that a big reason for the thefts is the lack of streetlights.
Thefts occurred around Main and Poplar streets and Stephanie and Kimberly drives on three occasions, resident Brian Wheeler recently told Brownstown Town Council members during a meeting.
“With the recent theft issues, the No. 1 deterrent of crime is having lights. It’s just very simple,” Wheeler said.
A couple of residents have had their own poles installed and hardwired to their homes.
Council President John Nolting asked Wheeler if it would be an issue if new lights were put in and they weren’t the same as those residents’ poles.
“I think, at this point, aesthetics are at the very bottom of the pole,” Wheeler said. “It’s more of a safety concern. Our neighborhood has probably at least 25 to 30 young children, so now, you’re talking about people out in the evenings at dusk and there are no lights.”
Wheeler said when the addition was built, developers Steve Ackerman and Dave Lucas promised streetlights, sidewalks and parking.
Since none of those things has come to fruition, Wheeler said he decided to approach the town council to see what could be done to at least get streetlights.
“It’s going to become a matter of it could possibly look like negligence on the (town’s) part assuming that (thefts) continue,” Wheeler said.
“That is part of our job, to keep people safe, so that’s something we need to take into consideration,” Nolting responded.
Wheeler said he has always understood the developers bought lights, but they weren’t up to the specifications of Duke Energy, which is responsible for maintaining streetlights within town limits.
Town attorney Rodney Farrow researched the plat of the subdivision when the town council approved it and didn’t find where streetlights would be required. He also didn’t find anything about that in the code of ordinances.
“The town does pay a fee to Duke for every streetlight that you have shining in this town,” Farrow said. “Duke is going to charge you a fee for installation for any and all streetlights in the future.”
On top of the cost of each pole, Farrow said there is a monthly fee.
Nolting asked Wheeler how many lights he thought were needed in the subdivision. Wheeler said Duke Energy will do a survey to figure out how much space they have and where the best places are to put the lights, and the lights are typically placed in easily accessible places for maintenance purposes.
Among the four streets in the subdivision, Wheeler said, two have no lights and the other two aren’t lit well.
Wheeler added the older portion of the subdivision isn’t lit well, either. Councilwoman Bethany Brewster said that when she runs on town streets she avoids that area because it is so dark.
Nolting said the first step should be for someone from the council to contact the developers. The next step would be to talk to Duke to obtain prices of streetlights.
Councilman Dustin Steward, who also works for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, said he knows the Brownstown Police Department, with some help from the sheriff’s department, has been working hard to make sure the area is patrolled.
Wheeler said he noticed the increased police presence, having recently called in and having a Brownstown officer and two county officers arrive within two minutes.
“We really do appreciate that. It’s pretty amazing,” Wheeler said. “That’s great to know that’s there, but I wonder how much of this could be stopped with new lighting?”
“There’s no doubt in my mind (lights) need to be down there,” he said. “If someone else needs to pay for them … then it’s our job to keep them safe. We definitely want to make sure that people in town stay safe.”