Local law enforcement officials have seen more severe domestic violence incidents and crimes against children during the statewide shelter-in-place order while shoplifting at the local Walmart remains an ongoing issue, officials say.
Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland told The Hartwell Sun last week that domestic violence incidents have become more severe in recent weeks.
“The heavy criminal acts are falling to the wayside,” Cleveland said. “But crimes against children, aggravated assaults and domestics are getting worse. It’s just strange. It’s a strange time right now.”
Cleveland said there isn’t necessarily an uptick in the number of domestics, but the severity of the incidents has been worse recently.
“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve made several arrests on child molesting and domestic violence,” Cleveland said.
During the week of April 7 to April 14, the sheriff’s office arrested four men on either sexual exploitation of a child or child molestation charges, The Sun reported. Two other men were arrested on cruelty to children charges in separate incidents. A 30-year-old woman was arrested on April 8 and charged with elderly neglect or abuse after allegedly pushing down her 83-year-old grandmother, who she was living with, leaving a bruise and multiple skin abrasions on the victim, arrest warrants allege.
The week prior, from March 31 to April 6, a man was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and violating the family violence act. A woman was also arrested for allegedly violating the family violence act and trespassing.
Also during that week, a man was shot in an apparent drive-by shooting, but has since recovered and two suspects have been arrested and charged.
In Hartwell, police chief Anthony Davis said shoplifting at Walmart remains an issue despite the order to stay at home. He said the department has made several misdemeanor theft by shoplifting arrests recently, which is nothing out of the ordinary. The Hartwell Police Department had seven shoplifting cases between April 6 and April 20.
Davis said they’ve had very few domestic incidents in the city recently, besides one call at around 5 a.m. on April 13, while officers were out aiding with storm damage, where the caller complained about an issue over a dirty dish.
Officers did arrest two parents at Walmart on April 20 after they allegedly left their 7-year-old and 14-month-old children in a truck unattended for 20 minutes or more while they were inside the store, arrest warrants allege.
Davis said the local retailers are doing a good job of self-enforcing social distancing by limiting the number of customers allowed in a store at one time.