Sgt. Joel Tranter

Sgt. Joel Tranter gives a briefing at the Phoenix Police Dept. Ahwatukee Foothills Substation at Pecos Park on Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013.

The Phoenix Police Department joined a website in January as an effort to make neighborhoods safer after concerned residents reported several instances of burglary, solicitation and vandalism in their community.

A Phoenix Community Action Officer spoke to Ahwatukee residents on March 26 about, a website where neighbors can report suspicious activity and the police department can post public safety tips.

“ is a safety tool that you and people in your neighborhood can use, it is kind of set up like Facebook and it allows you to make posts and comments,” Phoenix Community Action Officer Chad Williamsen said. “Nextdoor keeps you up to date in real time, instead of hearing about it a couple weeks later.”

Residents said that their neighborhoods have been vandalized, homes and cars have been broken into and solicitors have come to their doorstep. They made sure these instances were addressed to the police at the community crime summit last Wednesday.

An Ahwatukee resident said that her Lakewood neighborhood had recently been hit with vandalism on a boat dock on the west lake, which was then set on fire and removed. There have been attempted break-ins to several homes and vehicles have been driven through common walls, she added.

Solicitors have become a pressing issue for many residents.

Another resident said that typically, they will have identification tags on them and they will be selling a magazine subscription.

“I tell people to let the solicitor know that someone is home,” Williamsen said. “I don’t prefer people to open the door if they don’t have a security door because we’ve had situations in Ahwatukee where they stick their foot in the door and then they won’t leave until you buy something.”

Recently, at a local elementary school, police said a man was seen speeding through a school zone in the morning when children were getting off the bus.

“Nobody who saw it got his license plate number, so I had to notify my neighbors and active block watch members, so we are on the look out for that,” said Ahwatukee resident Connie Squires. Homes that are far off of the road and have a high amount of part-time residents are becoming more susceptible to vandalism.

“We have had two rear, sliding back doors hit from the desert with rocks and one of the doors was shattered,” Squires said. “So, now we have people from the block watch on the look out for people on the foothills, side walks and washes.”

When people are living in a neighborhood that is full of mostly part-time residents, they may need to take more safety measures to prevent vandalism and burglary.

“It sort of interrupts the environment for permanent residents,” said Ahwatukee resident Penelope Johnson. “We had some rocks thrown at windows, tires slashed, and if you were to ask me what to change I would like to see in police patrol, I would like to see more police patrolling on foot.”

The Phoenix Police Department is planning to patrol more in local neighborhoods on bikes, get more police officers familiar with all the communities, and provide more lighting on streets.

The department is trying to make it easier for people to call to report suspicious activity.

“Make sure to call Crime Stop, it is like calling 911 and it dispatches police out to your area,” Williamsen said.

• Angela Crusco is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.

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