Commercial Crimes Down Since "Cops in the Cooler" Program Launched

Officers have been staking out back rooms of stores.
Officers have been staking out back rooms of stores.

Have you heard us talk about cops in the cooler? For months, Savannah-Chatham police detectives have been hiding out in coolers and back rooms at local convenience stores. They're there to catch bad guys in the act, but is their work paying off?

Yes it is. Last year at this time, Savannah-Chatham police had 23 commercial robberies. This year they've only had six.

And not only are the numbers down. Police are catching their robbery suspects.

The Timesaver on Oglethorpe Avenue near the Talmadge Bridge has seen its share of crime, and last week was no exception. "On Thursday night an elderly gentleman came in the store and purchased something, upon exiting the store a juvenile black male was waiting for him outside and took the change he received," Det. Paul Paradowski told us.

The suspect got away, but not for long. "On Thursday night, there was a description on a surveillance camera," said Det. Lara Hannegan. "On Friday we came back and here he came walking in the store with the same clothing, that was the key."

Savannah-Chatham police detectives have been doing undercover surveillance work at the Timesaver and other convenience stores and hotels across town since January.

"It's self gratifying," said Det. Paradowski. "All of your sitting and waiting, to finally have something done, it's good to be proactive for once instead of reactive."

Every night police say they'll be out there, watching and waiting, cracking down on crime, one criminal at a time.

"There's cops in the cooler and you never know which one you are going to walk into and someone's going to be looking at you," said Det. Hannegan.

The 15-year-old accused of robbing the man at the Timesaver is being held at the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center. Police say he stole about $10.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter,