By Macy Jenkins

RIO LINDA (CBS13) — Neighbors in Rio Linda fed up with crime in their community are looking to the Guardian Angels for help.

Back in 1980s, the Guardian Angels became known as crime-fighting vigilantes in New York. Now, they’re hitting the streets of Rio Linda.

“We’re not trying to be vigilantes, we’re just trying to be out there,” said Derek Roberts, a Rio Linda resident. “You know, it takes a village.”

The group held a community meeting Wednesday night to recruit members. The turnout was small but Roberts says they’re just getting started.

“We are the cushions between you and law enforcement,” said Eliazar Aguilar, a Guardian Angels Commander. “We’re trying to save you. We’re trying to get you home.”

They fight crime by practicing martial arts and communication techniques.

Derick Roberts recently made a desperate call to the Angels. He’s concerned about an increase in crime and transients in his area.

“Late at night when the sun goes down, we get cars racing, we get sideshows,” he said. “And it’s getting worse.”

His own life was altered forever at a stoplight near his home seven years ago.

“A drunk driver coming from town hit us at 65 head-on,” Roberts said. “It ripped [my family] apart for a long time and we’re still dealing with it.”

Now, at just 50 years old, he needs a hip replacement. His pain is a reminder of his troubled community. He’s asked the Guardian Angels to be the visual deterrent he says his neighborhood needs to move people along who are up to no good.

Over at Rio’s Vintage Marketplace, owner Alisa Cumbra says she could use some Angels looking out for her business.

“I’ve had people sleeping out in the breezeway here, using drugs,” she said. “We call the police but it takes time for them to get here, and by the time they get here, they’re usually gone.”

The group dates back to 1979 when it started in Bronx, New York. But Aguilar insists they’re not the same vigilantes from back in the 80s.

“Our main focus is safety patrol first,” Aguilar said. “We’ll save anybody, we don’t care who it is, what race, what color, it doesn’t matter.”

And they don’t want to replace police; they just want to be a backup when they can’t be there.

“We try to get a relationship with law enforcement and let them know where we’re going to be patrolling,” Aguilar said.

Sgt. Shaun Hampton with Sac Sheriff’s Department says they’re appreciative of watchful members of the community. They encourage anyone interested in keeping the peace to reach out to them about how they can work together.

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