HOT SPRINGS – Being vigilant, looking out for your neighbors and reporting suspicious activity to the police department is a message Hot Springs Police Chief Mike Close hopes to get out to the public, as a means to aid in the threat of crime within the community
Close recently sat down with the Hot Springs Star and provided an update on some of the things which his department has been working on over the past few weeks and months.
Burglaries have been of greater concern of city residents since this past August when 15 vehicles were broken into and had items stolen from their interiors, and two vehicles were stolen with one of them later recovered in Pine Ridge. According to the Police Log on Sunday, Aug. 27, over a six hour period, some 13 incidents of burglaries and break-ins were shown to have been reported.
Shortly after the reported incidents, Hot Springs Police identified Laney Bacon, a 5-foot, 10-inch Native American male weighing approximately 170 pounds, as a “person of interest” in the burglaries. Close said Bacon was suspected to be involved with at least three other individuals in the rash of burglaries, not only in Hot Springs, but in several other incidents from the northern Nebraska panhandle, all the way north to Rapid City and into the Northern Hills.
On Sept. 9, Bacon was taken into custody by the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) law enforcement after leading a Custer County Sheriff’s deputy and a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper on a chase that started on Hwy. 40 and ended in a remote area of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
While he was being detained by OST law enforcement, Chief Close said he had an opportunity to interview Bacon about the incidents in Hot Springs, but added that Bacon had since been released from jail and is assumed to be at-large and residing on the reservation. While there are warrants out for his arrest from surrounding counties, Close said there is not a warrant currently filed from the Hot Springs Police. He however remains a suspect in the Hot Springs burglaries, Close said, while adding that he would be questioned again if ever arrested once off the reservation.
Since Bacon’s release from jail by the OST, Close acknowledged that there had been some reports of burglaries and attempted burglaries in Hot Springs, but that it is not believed that any of these most recent incidents are related to those in August.
Close said the incidents in which they believe Bacon and his “crew” were involved with in Hot Springs showed an intent to “get as much stuff as possible and then leave town.” The recent incidents, he said, were much more isolated and random.
One example he spoke of was an attempted burglary at Frankie’s Place in downtown Hot Springs – the former Jenny’s Rec Pool Hall – which occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and where two people were identified to have been involved, but were wearing masks. He said the suspects were setting off fireworks in an attempt to get employees inside to open up the back door.
Close added that it is not rare for his department to get one or two burglary calls every few weeks. He added that social media sites like Facebook have been a very useful tool in helping to keep in contact with the public and learning about leads. He also encourages the public to work with their neighbors to help combat crime.
A Neighborhood Watch program is something his department has been working on and is currently in the process of setting up a list of guidelines which they will soon unveil to Hot Springs residents, if there are any neighborhoods who would like to create one to help deter crime. He said the guidelines will not only be based on the national Neighborhood Watch program, but also on resent local incidents which are specific to Hot Springs.