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Neighbors come together at Nite to Unite

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Dillon Pedersen is handed a $100 bill by Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey for finding the hidden medallion during the "Nite to Unite" event Tuesday night at Pioneer Village.

WORTHINGTON -- Burglaries in Worthington are down 50 percent this year, according to Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey.

"That's the lowest amount it's been in the past 10 years," he told the crowd at the annual Nite to Unite event Tuesday. "Thefts are down 10 percent from last year."

Cumiskey encouraged the citizens to report suspicious activity to authorities, even if they were unsure whether the activity was important.

"We do better when you're our eyes and ears, too," he explained.

Nite to Unite, formerly known as National Night Out, is an annual event that gives citizens the opportunity to meet in a crime prevention effort.

 All over the country, neighbors meet neighbors and learn about how police and sheriff's departments work, and what they can do to help keep their neighborhoods a safer place.

"I like to report that things are going well, but we can always use help," Cumiskey stated. "We can't do it without you.

Citizens began showing up at Pioneer Village at 5 p.m., looking forward to a K-9 demonstration, chatting with friends and a pork sandwich dinner. Many were also curious to find out who had found the "Find the Stolen Property" medallion, worth $100.

That honor went to Dillon Pedersen, 16, of Worthington.

Pedersen had been reading the clues in the paper for a few days, and when he started searching Monday, he found the medallion within 10 to 15 minutes, he said.

"I went to the tennis courts near the ALC, where there's a backboard for practicing tennis shots," he said. "The medallion was on the other side of the support beams, resting on a beam."

This is the first year Pedersen has tried to interpret the clues and find the medallion -- a rather successful venture for him. Cumiskey handed him a crisp $100 bill, and teased the teen about whether or not he would take part in the Turkey Day medallion hunt.

Taking the secrecy of Tuesday night's announcement seriously, Pedersen didn't tell anyone but his parents and brothers he had found the medallion.

"My brother Shane was pretty disbelieving," he said with a grin.

When asked how he plans to spend the money he earned with his sleuthing skills, Pedersen said he will probably just end up saving it for college. He's currently looking into civil engineering as a career option.

Citizens and neighbors who attended the event were enthralled with the agility and skill of the Worthington K-9 units, watching attentively as Laika and Thor obeyed each and every command uttered by their handlers, Officers Randy Liepold and Brett Wiltrout.

Adults and children alike were anxious to give the dogs a pat, even after watching Thor drag a "bad guy" off the hood of a car during the use of force demonstration. They were also impressed to see Laika chase a "bad guy" through a field, and instantly veer away at a shouted command from her handler after the "bad guy" raised his hands as requested.

"We don't want to have our dogs bite someone unless it's a last resort," Wiltrout explained to the crowd.