Neighbors meet with police to try to take back streets from criminals

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Neighbors in one local community are so fed up with crime they are now ready to take a stand against the criminals by starting a neighborhood watch group.

Car prowls, mail thefts and vandalism have plagued parts of Port Orchard and unincorporated Kitsap County.

“It’s nothing special but to Jesse it’s the world,” said Kathy Sims.

Crooks broke into Sims’ grandson’s pickup truck and ripped out his stereo.

“He had coins in a jar saving up for this stereo system, you know?” she said. “It’s not like a gift that was given to him, this was something he saved for.”

The break-in happened in front of their Port Orchard home in late February. Other neighbors also said crooks broke into their cars recently, too.

Sims said her family feels violated.

“Just to see the hurt in his eyes,” she said, “Something that meant so much from him now has been taken away.”

Mail theft is also a problem on the peninsula.

One look at the scattered letters and advertisements littering the ground shows why neighbors believe crooks are getting out of hand.

“Angry, frustrated,” said homeowner Tiffany Bartley. “It keeps happening.”

Jonathan Furman said a thief cut through a chain link fence to gain access to his back yard and then his house. Crooks got away with laptops, jewelry, and a handgun.

“The monetary thing is not that bad,” said Furman. “It’s just the sentimental value of those is just astronomical.”

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office said burglaries, vandalism and car thefts are persistent problems, but neighbors said there are too many crooks on the streets.

“We want to learn how to prevent crime,” said community resource officer, Deputy Sheriff Schon Montague. ”There’s only so many officers and there’s a lot more people so we need to make sure that people know how to prevent the crimes themselves.”

Police said it’s important for people to call 911 right away if they see something suspicious.

They also suggest recording serial numbers for expensive items that could get stolen.

The neighborhood watch meeting  was being held at the Christian Life Center on Lincoln Avenue.