This summer was the last straw for residents along Willamette Street.
The three blocks near Browne Mountain were the target of a bigger wave of vandalism, thefts and vehicle prowlings than Block Watch coordinator Linda Haladyna had seen in her 23 years living there.
“This last summer was really the worst crime ever,” she said. “It was just deplorable.”
It was so bad that at 2:30 one summer morning, Haladyna awoke to see someone rummaging through a panel of mailboxes at the curb. Another neighbor’s bench was stolen right off his front porch.
More than one household found people sleeping in their backyards.
“We’ve had some major problems,” she said. “With all the crime we had out here this summer, we decided to get active.
“Really, the Sheriff’s Department can’t be every place.”
Sheriff’s deputies said October was a bad month for the area just south of the city limits. Between Hatch Road and Browne Mountain and south to 65th Avenue, deputies received more than 31 complaints of residential burglaries and car break-ins between mid-September and the end of October.
In November, Willamette Street neighbors met with deputies to learn what they could do to make their neighborhood safer. They’ll meet again next week to put some of these ideas to work.
One major problem, said Haladyna, is the lack of streetlights, which makes a burglar’s job that much easier. The neighbors plan to write letters to county engineers requesting more lights.
They’re also looking at setting up a community patrol, with residents signing up to walk along the streets during spring and summer months.
Haladyna hopes these ideas will curtail the crime.
“Because we’re so isolated, it increases our risk,” she said. “We want to let people know we’re going to protect our property.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: BLOCK WATCH MEETING The Willamette Street Block Watch will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Moran Prairie Elementary. A representative from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department will attend to answer questions about neighborhood safety.