Crime & Courts

Lake residents use free police checks

Lexington County deputies travel on water instead of roads to keep an eye on Susan Whittle's home.

Whittle is one of the first Lake Murray homeowners to take advantage of a new service by deputies who patrol the 47,500-acre lake in boats.

The check-ups "give me peace of mind" when her family is away from its residence, she said.

Inspections started Oct. 1 after Sheriff James Metts approved the step as a new way to reduce residential and commercial break-ins in an area where homes are among the most expensive in the Midlands.

Marine patrol members look over boats and docks as well as residences for anything amiss during a minimum of three inspections daily when residents are away from their homes.

Whittle learned how thorough those checks are when alerted while at work recently that a gate at her home near Batesburg-Leesville was ajar.

A repairman inadvertently left it unlatched, but she appreciated the notice.

"They're very good about calling about anything that looks different than before," Whittle said.

The checks are available free upon request for any dwelling or business along the 308-mile lakeshore in the county.

It's a new role for a three-member team whose focus is boating safety.

Capt. Clark Rowe, who heads the squad, said it's often easier and quicker for deputies familiar with the winding shoreline and homes hidden by trees to undertake the inspections instead of their counterparts who patrol nearby roads.

"We're busy all the time, but we can pitch in doing this," he said. "The lakefront is something we're usually more familiar with."

Many lakeshore homeowners post addresses on docks as well as roadside.

Whittle described the checks as a security blanket for her home.

"It's definitely worthwhile to know someone is keeping watch on a routine basis," she said. "Why would anyone not take advantage of it?"