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Neighborhood watch forms

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By Calen McKinney

 

After half a dozen thefts in the past year, Shiloh Road residents have decided to take action.

Residents have formed a neighborhood watch group to keep an eye on the property and vehicles in the area.

Wayne Livesay, one of the group's organizers, said he and some other residents have discussed forming the group for several months.

He said after five or six homes and vehicles were burglarized, the group decided to organize and post signs in neighborhood yards. As of a week ago, 15 signs were posted in the Shiloh, Summersville, Pitman Creek and Arnold Road areas.

"We left it open ended," Livesay said. "Anyone can join in. Because what we want to do is stop the theft in the community.

"To make them aware that we will be watching for each other."

Tom Caldwell, another of the group's organizers, said residents have expressed concern about the thefts. Some items were taken from vehicles, which were parked right outside a person's home.

"It did get us a bit alarmed," he said. "That's a brave feat, they walk right up to your house."

Caldwell said he likes the idea of a neighborhood watch because it brings with it a feeling of community. And some people today, he said, don't know their neighbors as people used to. Forming a group to watch out for each other could change that.

Caldwell said the signs posted on the property of those participating in the watch state, "Neighborhood Crime Watch. We report all suspicious activities to the police! We watch out for each other."

"[Theft] is a growing problem," Caldwell said. "I think it might be a deterrent."

Livesay had some tools and scrap iron stolen from his farm earlier this year. He said he encourages those who know about crimes to contact the police.

"We just want an anonymous person to let the people know that we are watching for each other."

And Caldwell said it's important that when someone leaves town for a few days, they tell a trusted neighbor that they will be gone and ask them to keep an eye on their home.

The group is cooperating with the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Livesay said, to get its watch program off the ground.

Sheriff Allen Newton says he is aware of the thefts in the Shiloh Road area.

"There's been a few thefts out there," he said. "We have made several arrests in that area."

He said he realizes that some people don't report crimes, so there could have been more in the area than his officers realize.

Newton said he encourages neighborhood watch groups.

"Any eyes and ears you have, you know, is good," he said. "Any information they could give us is worth a whole lot.

"It's a win-win for us and them, too."

Newton said it's important that his officers know who is involved with the group, along with how to contact them should the need arise.

He said people should take notice of any suspicious activity and get the license plate numbers of vehicles hanging around in the area. He said some are likely just innocently driving around, but others could have other intentions in mind.

"But you don't know till you check."

Caldwell said he encourages anyone who sees something suspicious to report it.

"If the criminal knows that they will be looking after each other's property, they might not bother us," he said. "They'll bother someone else, unfortunately."

Newton said his offers are doing some extra patrol in the Shiloh Road area, depending on their call volume.

"We do patrol everywhere," Newton said. "It all depends on our call volume. In this job, you don't plan anything down to a science.

"For no more officers than [we've] got, we do a good job."