Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chaparral Village standing up to crime

Published June 17, 2008

About 35 residents from the Chaparral Village subdivision met this week at the home of a local resident to discuss ways to prevent and fight crime in the area, including a recent spate of car burglaries and late-night street racing.

Folks spilled out of the living room and up the stairs to hear Crime Watch leaders and Capt. David Alford, head of the community service bureau of the Baytown Police Department. All stressed the importance of remaining vigilant and taking steps to ensure the safety of every family.

“Basic crime prevention doesn’t change – it’s a mentality,” Alford said. “Remaining observant doesn’t mean being paranoid. Just be aware. And always lock those doors and keep those valuables out of sight.”

Alford said such community involvement was essential, helping the police department better execute its fundamental task of reducing and punishing crime.

“I hope they keep doing what they’re doing,” Alford said. “They need to continue meeting so they can continue to share information with each other and with the police department. That helps us find out what their needs are, and helps them understand our limitations. We tell everybody to call. We may not get to it right away, but we’ll get on it.”

The resident who hosted the event, who asked not to be identified because of family concerns, said the neighborhood will get serious about the “watch” in Crime Watch, perhaps creating patrols that will observe and report any suspicious activities.”

“But a lot of what we need to do are common sense things,” she said. “Don’t leave valuables in the car. Don’t have shrubs that are easy to hide in. Don’t leave ladders lying against the house. And keep your lights on.”

Increased lighting, both on the street and at Barkaloo Park, is a priority for residents of homes in the area, which number about 500. The park, said several residents, has been the site of drug deals and other criminal activity at night.

The crime stopping spirit of the neighborhood is embodied in perhaps its most prominent citizen, “Baytown” Bert Marshall, who began the Baytown Concerned Citizens group last year. Marshall is a longtime resident of Chaparral and hopes to stay there for a long time to come. On his web log, www.baytownbert.blogspot.com, he calls on his fellow residents to help in the cause.

“It boils down to what we as tax-paying home owners want to see when we look around our homestead,” Marshall said. “Do we want to stop crime before we are victimized or do we want to pretend it couldn’t happen to us? Are we willing to change the way we do things if it reduces the chance we will be robbed or targeted for criminal mischief?”

It appears that, for at least 35 people, the answer is yes.

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