Oak Forest neighborhood on crime alert

February 11, 2009 8:28:45 PM PST
Some residents in one of Houston's older neighborhoods said they are concerned about recent break-ins and they are worried crime is creeping a little too close to home.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

A homeowner named Ellen has lived in Oak Forest for more than two decades, but it only took a few minutes for her sense of safety to change.

"Violated and angry. I'm angry now," she said.

Ellen's home was burglarized when the thieves broke in by kicking in a pet door.

"They took an antique pistol from World War II that my father had left to me. They're taking guns," said Ellen.

Ellen said she's not the only burglary victim on her street. Crimetracker numbers show that while violent crimes like assault decreased through 2008 in Oak Forest, burglaries and thefts were up around 40%.

Captain Ceaser Moore with the Houston Police Department's North Patrol attributes the increase to the crime spike during Hurricane Ike, but he added they are always working to decrease crime.

"We are doing a lot of directed patrols which means officers during their uncommitted time drive through the area are looking for criminal activity and talking to people who are out of place," said Capt. Moore.

Neighbors point out a particular concern with the small bayou behind their homes which provides a potential getaway path for criminals.

"They need more security. They need the area around the bayou fenced off," said Ellen.

Police admit it is a hard area to patrol, but Captain Moore said cutting down on truancy could also decrease daytime crime.

"So it makes sense when you have kids out, most burglars are between the ages of 15 and 21, so we want to have those kids go back to school," said Capt. Moore.

The north patrol station will be placing a truancy squad in the area within a few weeks.

Ellen recently did something she never felt was necessary before ? she had a burglar alarm installed at her home. Even that doesn't restore her sense of security the thieves took with them.

"I do not feel safe. Even with a burglar alarm, I do not feel safe," said Ellen.

There have not been any arrests in Ellen's case and police are trying to determine if her break-in is linked to other crimes in the neighborhood.

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