Neighbors gather to combat crime in Central Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

The residents called on the city council and Fresno Police. The group at the neighborhood meeting may be small but they are planning a big movement on East Vassar Avenue.

Each and every person at the neighborhood meeting has either had their home broken into or they have had things stolen from them.

"There have been a number of break-ins, especially in the last three months" said Fresno resident Carlo Penna. "One woman down the street got hit twice in the last three months. Another woman across the street has been broken into. It's been a pattern in the neighborhood for a while."

Penna helped organize the meeting between his neighbors, Fresno police, and Councilman Clint Olivier. Crooks have not tried to break into Penna's home, yet.

Penna said the vulnerability of his neighbors sparked his activism. "We've got a lot of older women, single women living here," he said. "I'm concerned that they might come home and an intruder might be in their house."

In an effort to clean up the crime and other trouble there the alley entrances behind these homes are now blocked off. But, the locks have already been replaced several times.

"In many places throughout the city the alley are magnets for trash, they're magnets for dumping, they're magnets for crime," said Councilman Olivier. "Hopefully working together we can find some answers to these problems."

Police say crime is not unusually high in that neighborhood. But neighbors say hearing the stories of old crimes and knowing at least six homes have been burglarized in the past few weeks they're taking a stand.

"We're new to the neighborhood, so that's kind of like wow," said John Carrizales. "But as long as we can keep a lid on it, and keep our eyes open, that's will help out the most. Just being proactive and helping out the neighbors."

The neighbors say they're also going to work with Olivier's office to get rid of their alleys altogether. The group is also interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch program, something the city can help with.

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