LAURINBURG — A task force comprised of 14 sheriff’s deputies arrested seven men in six hours this weekend as part of a campaign to address “high crime” areas in Scotland County.
“We focus on areas where we get a lot of calls about drug activity, domestic incidents, suspicious individuals, loud music,” said Sheriff Shep Jones. “We take a look at our call log and see where the high-volume calls are coming in and see what the nature of the calls are.”
Two teams of seven officers addressed eight such areas between the hours of 8 p.m. on Saturday and 2 a.m. on Sunday, resulting in the arrests. Three men were charged with felonies.
Thomas McLean, 34, of 20401 Surrey Drive was arrested for one count of felonious possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Deputies seized more than half a pound of marijuana and McLean was placed under a $10,000 secured bond.
Spencer Jones, 43, and William Breeden, 45, both of 819 Old Lumberton Road were arrested and charged with felonious larceny. They were each placed under a $5,000 secured bond.
Four other arrests were made for traffic and child support violations.
“You can track calls and it will give you a clear indication of what may be taking place in that area and you try to prevent any problems from elevating to more serious crimes,” Jones said. “If you’ve got an area where you’re having numerous domestics, drug activity, that can easily escalate to murders.”
In the future, the sheriff’s Neighborhood Improvement Teams will be sporadically assigned to areas identified as problematic. Although criminals may simply respond by relocating to different neighborhoods, Jones said that investigators will keep tabs on them and that individual neighborhoods will be safer overall.
“When the heat is on in one area, they’ll just move to another area,” he said. “If they’re in the county they may move to another portion of the county that’s not as highly visible as far as crime or they may even move to the city. If they’re in the county we’re going to work them.”