(10/16/2008)
By Bob Weaver

A crime spree has hit Calhoun County this year since the tightening of the economy, with new property crimes being reported almost daily.

The West Virginia State Police have declined to confirm reports of such crimes, which has led to the filing of a Freedom of Information request with the agency.

In the past 24-hours, there have been complaints of possibly two breaking and enterings, one at a Norman Ridge residence and one at Sav-a-Tool near Grantsville. There was also a report of a stolen vehicle.

Citizens have indicated dozens of incidents, including ATVs, vehicles, drugs, guns, gasoline, tools, copper wire, appliances, equipment or items that have resale value. Cash has also been reported stolen.

Sgt. J. E. Skidmore of the Grantsville detachment has declined to confirm the spree or the number of reported incidents, with information that has been provided being vague and confusing.

The Herald has requested generic information about property crimes, but Skidmore has deflected the requests, sometimes indicating public information would hurt an "active investigation."

The Herald advised Sgt. Skidmore that Calhoun citizens should be aware of the serious nature of property crimes being committed, stating citizens might want to take action in protecting their property.

The Herald has issued a Freedom of Information request that does not violate standards and should be readily available under the public information laws in West Virginia.

In a letter to Sgt. Skidmore, the Herald wrote "We regret you have continued to be unresponsive to our requests for simple information, as late as yesterday."

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST

A Freedom of Information request (October 10, 2008) is being issued because of a long-standing problem to obtain general information beneficial to the citizens of Calhoun County, with the agencies failure to respond to such legal requests, copies of the request forwarded to agency officials including Col. D. L. Lemmon.

(1) The number of reports/calls/complaints received by your agency in 2008 regarding the alleged theft or removal of ATVs, recreational or other motorized vehicles?

(2) The number of reports/calls/complaints received by your agency (Grantsville detachment) of all alleged property crimes (example: stolen items, breaking and enterings, burglaries, attempted burglaries, etc.) since May 1, 2008?

(3) A brief description of reports/calls/complaints related to all property crimes received by your agency during July, August, September 2008 using a description format: Date of report/call/complaint; nature of problem or complaint, brief description of what was stolen or involved with complaint, the general area of incident.

(4) A report regarding the solving of any of these incidents listed on the above requests?

In communicating with the State Police, the Herald has maintained, in most instances the public will lend assistance in solving crimes, provided they know of their commission.

The Herald also said "The release of generic public information would indicate the WV State Police are doing their job."

Sgt. Skidmore has alluded to the lack of a relationship with the Herald, likely because the Herald has previously published a long list of problems within the agency in Calhoun.

The Herald maintains there should not be a denial of information because the agency does not like the requester.


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