Tired of burglars, North Vallejo neighborhood gets together to fight back http://www.timesheraldonline.com/ci_22464570/...
Getting doors slammed on her face, and the occasional curses did not stop a Vallejo woman from making a difference in her North Vallejo neighborhood.
After knocking on neighbors' doors since 2009, Tina Encarnacion finally received support after her neighborhood, Carriage Oaks, became a haven for burglars.
Encarnacion said that since September break ins and burglaries have spiked.
"We are hit two to three times a week," the mother of three said.
The burglars target empty homes during weekdays, when most residents are at work, Vallejo police said.
Encarnacion said burglars had broken into her garage once four years ago, right after she and her family moved in.
"That was the start," she said of her efforts.
Since then she hasn't stopped, including producing regular newsletters for everyone in the eight-block neighborhood.
A neighbor who has lived in the area for more than a decade said many people were hesitant to speak up and stand up out of fear of becoming a target.
However, people are becoming tired of being prisoners in their own homes and have joined Encarnacion's efforts.
"Without Tina, this can never happen," one neighbor said.
The neighborhood watch has grown from 20 to almost 100 members in the past couple of months, Encarnacion said.
Earlier this month, the group met with Vallejo police Chief Joseph Kreins and Mayor Osby Davis, as well as a Vallejo police captain and lieutenant.
"They have been very supportive and understanding," Encarnacion said.
Since the meeting, extra patrols have been assigned to the neighborhood, depending on the day's call volume, Lt. John Whitney said.
"It's only a temporary fix," Whitney said. "But we are going to support their effort as much as we can."
The burglars are usually juveniles who live in nearby neighborhoods, even though a few have come from Richmond, he said. They also tend to work in groups, he added.
"They are getting more sophisticated," Whitney said. "They have lookouts, use cellphones or two-way radios."
Usually the burglars will knock on a door to check if someone is home. When a resident answers the door, they then would have a bogus excuse for knocking, Whitney said.
However, after they determined that no one was home, they would go around to a side door and kick it in, or break a window to enter.
Even when the home has an alarm system, burglars know they have a window of time before the police arrived.
"They get in, ransack the home, and get out quickly," Whitney said.
Residents should always make sure that their homes look occupied, he added. Rather than answering the door, Whitney recommended making their presence noticed instead, by slamming a door a couple of times, switching a few lights on to show that someone is home, or just talking through the door.
In any case, "don't just sit inside quietly," he said.
Encarnacion said there have been instances when residents have walked into people breaking into their homes. In all of those cases, the suspects have fled.
"I'm afraid someone is going to get hurt... I'm concerned it's going to get worse," Encarnacion said.
Since the issue has become rampant, the neighborhood watch group has decided to become more proactive. The efforts include taking turns patrolling the streets between noon and 8 p.m. by walking or driving around, getting to know neighbors during a monthly meeting, and establishing a phone tree and a website to quickly alert neighbors of suspicious activities.
In February, the neighborhood will hold a "Light up the street" campaign to ask everyone to turn on their porch lights from dusk until dawn.
Whitney also recommended homeowners install motion-sensor lights.