With its flat, tan exterior and central location across the street from an expanse of cinder block walls surrounding the Carson City Post Office, the Tanglewood Village town houses and its neighborhood at the corner of Roop Street and Little Lane has often become a canvas for graffiti vandals.
Tired of the complaints from tenants and the fear that gang crime will increase, the Tanglewood Village complex is one of a growing number of Carson City neighborhoods that have started Neighborhood Watch programs.
"We don't have security patrol on our property, so the next best thing that we tried to offer was the Neighborhood Watch program," said complex manager and Watch coordinator Danielle Tapia.
In June, the complex had their first meeting. Tapia said only about five of the tenants from 130 units showed up. She expects that as the meetings become commonplace, scheduled for the first Friday of every month, the participation will increase.
"I guess some is better than none," she said.
Law enforcement officials support the concept.
"The difficulty of it is breaking the social norm of introducing yourself to your neighbor," said Sheriff Ken Furlong. "Once you break that ice, then you can begin watching out for each other."
Neighborhood Watches have also been started in the areas of Northridge Drive, Harbin Street, Seeliger Elementary School and East Fifth, said Reserve Deputy and volunteer Watch coordinator Chris MacMahon.
According to internal statistics kept by the Carson City Sheriff's Department, although crime is decreasing in the capital city, gang crime is on the rise.
The recent arrest of five gang members who fired shots at an apartment complex just over a week ago after tenants there stopped them from tagging mailboxes, proves that people have to get involved, the sheriff said.
During Tuesday night's National Night Out, hundreds of people converged on Mills Park and took in the information from more than 30 displays ranging from the Army National Guard to Carson City SWAT.
The gathering was held in conjunction with a nationwide effort to fight crime.
"This, tonight, is the center of our town, where you have all of these people that live here coming together and you hope that they'll go back home and continue this," Furlong said. "Tonight is the day where we go out and we bring all of our public safety people together. This is to tell the community we support them. We are ready to do anything they ask us to do, regardless of the resources."
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
Getting Organized: Once a group of people decide to start a Neighborhood Watch, they should consider the following:
• Contact the Neighborhood Watch coordinator Reserve Deputy Chris MacMahon at 887-2020 ext. 49832.
• Select a coordinator and block captains who will be responsible for relaying information to members and for organizing meetings.
• Have someone responsible for recruiting new people and keeping current status on new members. Special efforts should be made to involve all people including the elderly, working parents and young people.
• Have Neighborhood Watch signs put up.
Other Avenues: You don't have to be a member of a Neighborhood Watch group to fight crime. Carson City Secret Witness pays rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals committing crimes. If you have any information call (775) 322-4900. The School Secret Witness number is (775) 329-6666. Or, you can dial "202" from any SBC pay phone for free. Callers always remain anonymous.
IF YOU GO:
What: "What's Going On In Your Neighborhood" Neighborhood Watch Meeting
When: Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Ormsby Room at the Carson City Sheriff's Department 911 E. Musser St.
Why: Sheriff Ken Furlong said his office will share information and maps with the public on what and where crime is happening.
Who: The meeting is open to everyone