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Evansville adopts prowling ordinance to curb burglaries

"Prowlers" in Evansville (Town of Evansville WY Police Department, Facebook)

CASPER, Wyo. — On the third and final reading, the Town of Evansville on Monday, November 22 adopted an ordinance drafted by Police Chief Mike Thompson to curb what he has described as a persistent problem with burglaries and attempted burglaries in the community.

“The last couple years, [and] specifically trending last year, we started having a lot more problems in the community of people going around and walking on properties at night, checking door handles, and, if people’s cars aren’t locked, occasionally taking things [including] firearms and purses,” Thompson told the council when he introduced the ordinance on October 25.

“I don’t think this trend is going to go away,” he added.

Evansville Mayor Chad Edwards told Oil City Monday that there had been strong support for the ordinance in the community since it was introduced in October.

The ordinance he drafted, based on a survey of similar ordinances, defines prowling as loitering or wandering in or around the private property of another, whether a “no trespassing” sign is present or not, and checking windows or doors without lawful business, or in a manner unusual for law-abiding citizens, without verifiable permission from the owner.

Without the ordinance, Thompson said the town had to rely on the district attorney to prosecute such behavior under state statutes regarding attempted burglary. Thompson said that not only is such a case difficult to build, it is not a high priority for the DA.

Thompson made a point at the first reading to note that he had changed “reasonable suspicion” to “probable cause” in order to align with language in the Fourth Amendment.

A first offense would carry a fine between $400 and $750. A second offense would be a fine of at least $500 dollars and five days in county jail. A third offense would carry a fine of at least $750 dollars and between 14 days and six months in jail.

Thompson said these proposed penalties were “pretty stiff,” adding, “I think we want to send a clear message: We don’t want people messing with people’s private property in this community.”

More information is available here.

Town of Evansville final prowling ordinance (Town of Evansville)
Town of Evansville final prowling ordinance (Town of Evansville)