Siesta Key resident Joe Volpe said he and his neighbors created a neighborhood patrol because of drivers speeding on their streets and teenagers egging cars and homes.
“People have had enough,” he said. “They want to clean up the neighborhood.”
Last month, the neighbors in the Higel Avenue and Treasure Boat Way area asked the sheriff’s office for help in starting a neighborhood patrol. May 22 was their first day patrolling their streets and looking for minor violations.
Three days later, a woman who lived three blocks away became the latest victim in a series of home invasions in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The Whispering Sands Drive resident was beaten and raped.
“(That incident) doubled the number of patrol volunteers,” Volpe said.
Now, with 100 volunteers and more signing up every day, according to Volpe, the minor crimes have been curtailed, and the neighbors are feeling safer about the major ones, such as the home invasion.
“Neighbors are talking to each other more,” Volpe said. “That’s the key."
The volunteers schedule themselves for a two-hour patrol. During those two hours, two volunteers get in a car and drive around their two-square-mile neighborhood. If they see someone speeding, they call the sheriff’s traffic notification line, 365-TAGS, with the car’s tag number. If they see a suspicious person, they call the sheriff’s office directly for assistance.
With the home invasion and rape that occurred nearby, the volunteers are also paying special attention to the single women and the elderly in the neighborhood.
“We’re going back to the days when neighbors watched out for neighbors,” Volpe said.
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