Crime pops up in Gettysburg Area
By Andrew Milone, Staff Writer
In October, armed robbers hit Laslow’s Pharmacy in Gettysburg, a place where not a lot of crimes occur. This drug robbery caused owner Dona Laslow to hire regular security. Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Joe Dougherty believes a crime like this is rare.
In fact, he moved to Gettysburg for a reason. He said, “Of all the places I could have chosen to retire, this is where I wanted to retire to. I never expected to be a cop again, and here there really is nowhere in town that I’m fearful of letting [my son] go.”
The store owners will hear about the occasional car being broken into or occasional alcohol or drug related mishap, but overall many of store owners speak of Gettysburg as a safe place to live and run their businesses. The shop owners don’t consider stealing a threat.
George Lower, who helped in founding Lord Nelson’s Gallery on Chambersburg Street, has lived in the area his entire life. “I’ve never even given [stealing] any thought,” he said. “The little bit of shoplifting I’ve seen, after being in business in this area all my life, is very minor.”
Scott Weiksner, who has worked at “A Little Irish Too” for over a year has never heard of alcoholism as being an issue in Gettysburg. “No more than any other town,” he said. “There are a lot of bars, a lot of tourists but never really gets out of hand.”
Crime in Gettysburg includes disorderly conduct, loud noises, underage drinking, and public intoxication. “There is a homicide every ten years or so while burglary and theft are not common,” said Chief Dougherty. “The average person never even comes into contact with a cop during their time in Gettysburg.”
He settled in Gettysburg after 31 years in Reading, which is known to be one of the crime capitals of the nation. At one point, it was on a FBI list of the most dangerous cities in the US. At times in Reading, Chief Dougherty would come across two shootings at once, but in Gettysburg there is almost a guarantee that a similar event would never occur.
“One of the things that I think you can judge a community by, is some of the strange things that it does,” said Chief Dougherty. “Something I have never seen in all the time that I’ve ever been here was a car parked at a fire hydrant. Even on duty or off duty, I’ve never seen it but if you go to other cities that’s just reserved parking, and I think that’s really emblematic of the fact that we got some really good people around here.”
Alyra Parker, a sophomore at Gettysburg College, is from Reading and has heard stories of crime that goes on in center city but has never experienced crime. “In the city, crime happens every day,” said Parker. “Robberies, murder, things like that but crime within the school, I think we had the reputation of being the dangerous school.”
Over 7,000 people reside in Gettysburg. Chief Dougherty said, “one of the things, if you look at today’s media, you don’t realize as an average person that 99% of the people you meet are decent people.”