Murphysboro Police Fight Back


By Sam Jones
By Benjy Jeffords

JACKSON COUNTY-- The second half of January was unsettling for some folks in Murphysboro after five armed robberies in town in a span of 10 days.

Police say they have a good track record though, with five suspects behind bars.

The Murphysboro police department was put to the test last month. A new chief had taken over not long before the robbery spree. Yet officers were able to nab most of the suspects quickly thanks to a little bit of luck, and a lot of strategy.

“It was a rash of incidents all at the same time which made it seem probably more unsafe than it is,” Chief Brian Hollo explained.

The crimes presented a challenge to police and kept residents like Alice Balsano on edge.

“Now everything's on lock down, even during the day, because you just have to make yourself safe. It's a different world,” said Balsano.

Hollo says the department was able to overcome the obstacles.

“Just look at our track record. Those that have committed the crimes are either in jail or in prison and we will capture anyone that has a violent crime in the city,” he told News 3..

Police made five arrests in connection with the January hold ups.

“Makes you feel better, you know they're there, doing their job,” said Balsano.

Hollo says the progress isn't a coincidence. Officers focused patrols on potentially targeted areas and collaborated with the sheriff's department.

“That's a lot of people looking at the same crime, lot of different perspectives, and I think that really helps,” Hollo said.

One armed robber who still eludes investigators is the suspect that held up the Old National Bank on Walnut Street.

“We have leads and we have tips," said Hollo, "It’s just a matter of following up and eventually we’ll solve those as well; I'm confident of that.”

Another suspect remains on the loose from a robbery in November.

“I wish they'd catch him,” said Landess Mills.

Mills, a longtime business owner, found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

“[They] laid a pistol across my chest and said give me your billfold,” Mills recalled.

He's installed extra security so he won't be a victim again. He and Balsano both believe officers are doing everything they can to keep Murphysboro safe.

“I just don't have anything bad to say about the police department,” admitted Balsano.

Chief Hollo isn't sitting back after these key arrests. He says the Murphysboro Police Department plans to improve training and invest in better equipment.

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