We want to Verify the claims and statements you see on social media.
When crime happens in Warner Robins, people often comment on our Facebook page that Macon criminals are responsible for crimes in Warner Robins.
So using Warner Robins police arrest reports, Jacob Reynolds set out to Verify, “Are Macon-based criminals committing a large number of Warner Robins' violent crimes?”
Rebecca and Norman Poulin walk their dogs every day in Fountain Park.
The two say they've noticed possible signs of rising crime in their own neighborhood and around the city.
“We have seen strange guys walking up in our neighbor’s driveway, with their cars not there when they're working. And I've called the police and all and by the time they got there, they would be gone,” Rebecca said.
The two have lived in Warner Robins for 12 years and say they've heard people assume that Macon is to blame for two years of rising violent crime in Warner Robins.
“I think Warner Robins is eventually getting higher because of the migration. I think people are coming from Macon and the surrounding areas and this is what's making it go up, that's what I believe,” said Norman.
So we went to Warner Robins Police and through an open records request, collected every arrest for murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery and rape since May of 2012. That led to the arrest of 225 people in all.
Only 16 gave an address in Macon. That's about 7 percent or one out of 14.
So we verified that Macon-based criminals were not responsible for a large number of recent violent crime in Warner Robins.
But police Chief Brett Evans says given home addresses on arrest reports don't tell the whole story.
“If they're arrested here locally and they give a local address, then that's the information you're looking at. It doesn't necessarily mean they're from Warner Robins, just live here now,” Evans explained.
He gave us an example of a recent drug case that led to four arrests. The Chief says all four gave a Warner Robins address.
“We knew that all four of them were from other locations,” he said.
Evans gave another example. He says known shoplifters in Macon or other cities and counties have come to Warner Robins because they’re not known at stores in the area.
Evans says for a lot of people, they see reports of people arrested in Warner Robins that aren't from Warner Robins, which reinforces the perception that Macon criminals are to blame.
However, he says you can't blame any one factor for a crime increase or decrease.
“So, I'm not going to go the other direction with that either and tell you that Macon is solely responsible for the crime in Warner Robins. That wouldn't be fair, that wouldn't be a fair statement to make,” Evans said.
But, the Chief says he knows for a fact that people are moving to Warner Robins and committing crimes.
Evans says no matter what’s behind it, they have to fight the crime.
They are using computer tracking and crime analyzing to find hot spots and times when crimes are more likely to be committed.
The Poulins say those numbers surprised them and still can't believe it's all Warner Robins people committing those crimes. They said anyone can give a fake address.
Of those 225 people arrested, 160 gave a Warner Robins address.
Chief Brett Evans - Warner Robins Police
Arrest information from May 2012 to May 2017 - Warner Robins Police Department