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Home invasion victim fights crime in her neighborhood

July 20, 2012 12:35:01 AM PDT
A group of neighbors called Eyes Wide Open in northwest Fresno is coming together to raise money to protect their homes. The new crime watch unit was formed after a home invasion.

The people who live around here said they're willing to put up their own money to help their neighbors afford the cost of increased security.

About twenty concerned residents showed up to this Eyes Wide Open meeting Thursday evening.

Along with two Fresno police officers. On the agenda was preventing theft and break-ins.

"We can't be all places at all times. So having folks gather together, report what they're seeing, pulling information and keeping in contact with us is really the key to preventing crime," said Fresno Police Sgt. Brian Rogers.

Sgt. Rogers said crime rates around this area are low compared to other hot spots in the northwest policing district. That's where officers have concentrated much of their efforts recently, combating various shootings and other crimes. Many of them are gang-related.

"It keeps you on your toes, and it keeps you thinking that's why we need to keep these programs going and we need to know our neighbors," said Catherine Valenzuela. She's is the chief behind Eyes Wide Open.

She said last year someone broke into her garage while she and her family were asleep. The crook didn't get too far but the crime left her shaken.

"I feel like starting this program has given me a sense of taking control back," Valenzuela said.

Eyes Wide Open, which Valenzuela hopes to turn into a non-profit, is also raising money by selling t-shirts and other homemade goods.

"All of it will go back into making sure everybody in our neighborhood has a security screen door, if somebody needs help getting an alarm system going, spot light, things like that," she said.

And the neighbors, like Vernon Megee who has lived here 26 years, are now getting to know each other.

"I think it's a good thing. I mean, I've never even met a lot of these neighbors, and I've lived here all these years," Megee said.

Valenzuela told Action News she's choosing not to join the Fresno area Neighborhood Watch program because she's hoping Eyes Wide Open will grab more attention since it's new.

But this group is working with Neighborhood Watch leaders to keep these streets safe.


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