Reporting Andrea Menniti
STOCKTON (CBS13) — A community in Stockton has a message for bad guys: Stay away, or an army of volunteers will come after them.
The latest attack ended with the bad guys behind bars, and it’s not the first time the Weston Ranch neighbors have jumped into action.
Burglars have hit a home on Richard Smith’s block six times in two years. Fed up with crime, he and other neighbors took matters into their own hands when they recently caught a crook in the act.
“We went and looked. The first thing we see is the broken window and the shades moving,” Smith said. “We saw a shadow running up and down the stairs.”
The pair of astute neighbors grew into a small army, with all eyes on the bad guy.
“We had 20 to 30 people by the end of the night actually helping.”
Scenarios of neighbors taking on thieves continue to pop up in Weston Ranch.
“It’s gotten to the point where people are fed up with it, and they’ve not just going to let people get away with it anymore.”
Neighbors formed a large-scale community-involvement group called the Weston Ranch Community Association.
The idea is to use the developer zones already in place to section off neighborhoods in the sprawling subdivision, and then form smaller neighborhood watch groups to cover all 5,800 homes to kick out criminals, improve the quality of life and unite the community.
“There are some people who say we can’t take back the community, so they moved out,” said Anne Smith. “Well, we are trying to take back our community.”
And it’s not just the adults trying to take back the community. Kids are getting involved too.
A bathroom that was once covered in graffiti is now cleaned up thanks to the help of neighbors and kids.
“We hope eventually the people who are doing the graffiti will have a little bit of a conscience and say, ‘Hey, there’s little kids—7-, 8-, 9-year-old kids—coming out and cleaning up the mess. They must be proud to live here.’ Maybe they’ll stop doing the graffiti.”