Frank and Dolores Infanger, 86 and 85 years old, respectively, have done monthly duty for the Siesta Isles Security Patrol since they moved to the 300-home deed-restricted community more than 25 years ago.
That’s a little less than half of the 60 years the couple has been married — they spent their honeymoon in 1952, on Siesta.
Siesta Isles resident Bob Farrell organizes the schedule, which currently includes at least 16 of the neighborhood’s couples.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has sponsored citizen patrol groups since 1976. Equipped with magnetic patrol signs that read “Security Patrol,” volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the neighborhood for the Sheriff’s Office.
There were five crimes reported in Siesta Isles throughout 2012, compared with more than 100 throughout the rest of the island, according to CrimeMapping.com. Only three Sheriff’s Office reports came from Siesta Isles out of a random sample of 60 reports filed by deputies throughout the last three months.
Friday, Feb. 8
6:24 p.m. — Frank and Dolores Infanger lock up their house on Cape Leyte Drive and close the garage door before their shift. Frank Infanger grabs a black Maglite flashlight.
Throughout the evening, the couple stays most vigilant for open garage doors. A burglar stole suitcases out of their car after they returned from vacation 10 years ago.
6:26 p.m. — The Infangers start their 6-mile patrol early. The couple can usually canvass the neighborhood three times during a 7 to 9 p.m. shift, which is the most common timeframe volunteers choose for their monthly patrol.
Thirty years ago, the Security Patrol calendar was filled with three regular timeframes that stretched past midnight, Frank Infanger explains. Now, the recovering real-estate market means new neighbors who may be unfamiliar with the opportunity to serve on the volunteer force.
6:31 p.m. — Frank Infanger notices an open garage door on the first patrol, which begins on Azure Way.
“We’ll circle back at 8:30 or so, and if it’s still open, we’ll give (the homeowner) a call,” Infanger said.
The volunteer position comes with a black leather case filled with two magnetic car signs (there are usually four, but a volunteer misplaced two) and a thick white binder filled with contact information for each of the 300 homeowners in Siesta Isles.
6:32 — “Those are funny-looking plants,” Frank Infanger says as he slows to observe the red, tubular blossoms along Azure Way.
Bob Farrell, who shepherds the Neighborhood Watch program, said nature is often the most exciting part of a volunteer shift.
“I’ve seen screech owls, hoot owls and even bobcats,” Farrell said during a Feb. 5 phone interview.
6:39 p.m. — The Infangers spot two new houses for sale and two completed renovations. The couple, with their eyewitness knowledge of all 300 houses in Siesta Isles, have gumshoe real-estate knowledge.
6:42 p.m. — A silver four-door truck appears in the Infangers’ rear-view mirror and honks at them.
“Let’s get rid of him,” Frank Infanger said as he stops next to the depressed gutter butting Cape Leyte Drive.
“Nobody usually beeps at me,” Infanger said.
6:47 p.m. — Frank Infanger points to a new wall a homeowner recently erected at the front of their property.
“It looks a little bit funky,” Infanger says. “But, it looks nice.”
6:50 p.m. — The Infangers spot another open garage door. Again, time will tell whether volunteers contact the homeowner.
6:52 p.m. — A man is walking an unidentified dog in the dark. The man is wearing all white, so the Infangers don’t think he is suspicious.
7:02 p.m. — Four cars are parked in front of a home on Contento Circle. Bumper stickers indicate they may belong to college students. It could be a party. They will investigate again at 8:30 p.m.
7:05 p.m. — A homeowner still has his Christmas lights up.
“It’s a treat around Christmas to see all the lights (during a patrol),” Dolores Infanger says.
The 85-year-old doesn’t like driving, but her husband enjoys it.
7:10 p.m. — They approach a dilapidated Siesta Key Utility Authority infrastructure. In 2006, Sarasota County bought the utility company.
7:12 p.m. — Approaching Glebe Park, seven vehicles of different types idle with their headlights illuminated. The cars leave shortly after security patrol rounds the parking lot.
7:13 p.m. — The Infangers complete one patrol throughout the 6-mile neighborhood and note three open garage doors and a possible house party.
Frank Infanger notes there were few cars on the roads. He and Dolores Infanger opine that gas prices and a slow economy might make staying in on a Friday night more attractive than going out.
Siesta Isles Neighborhood Watch By the Numbers
6 miles — length road the patrol canvasses nightly
6 miles per hour — the Infangers’ average speed while on patrol
300 homes — in Siesta Isles
2 cars — encountered during a Feb. 8 sweep of the six-mile patrol route
Sheriff’s Office guidelines for Citizen Patrols
1. Security patrol volunteers are the eyes and ears of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. They have no police powers.
2. Do not attempt to apprehend a
3. No weapons of any kind.
4. Do not consume alcoholic beverages before or while on patrol.
5. Do not leave patrol area and remain in vehicle at all times.
6. Do not follow deputies to a scene or respond to the immediate area of an incident.