Unusual neighborhood watch program

April 3, 2009 4:25:07 PM PDT
There's a new neighborhood watch program coming to communities all throughout the Houston area. But it's not a function of homeowners' associations or residents. Rather, it's an initiative started by the men and women who collect your trash. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Lucio Villanueva is more than just a truck driver for Waste Management. As he makes his weekly rounds in a Pearland neighborhood, he's also a member of a brand new neighborhood watch on wheels developed by his employer and trained through Pearland police.

"Our drivers run consistent routes every day," explained Allen Mitchell of Waste Management. "They're familiar with the neighborhoods."

The program is in cities all over the US and Canada, but Pearland is the first local city to partner with Waste Management.

Mitchell said, "If they want the support of the extra eyes and ears of one of our drivers, it's there."

It's the kind of help that homeowner Rita Elder is excited to have.

She said, "I think it's really a good idea for people to look out for each other. I think if they're looking out, that would be fine."

Elder is especially thankful that the drivers have police led training and special forms to fill out that help with any investigation.

"That's a plus, too, that they know what they're doing -- that they know what to look out for," she said.

That way, the familiarity of drivers like Lucio Villanueva won't be going to waste.

Waste Management says just a couple of weeks ago a driver in New Mexico noticed a suspicious car along his route, called it in and it led to arrest of a suspected bank robber.

You can read more about the waste watch program in the in the Pearland Journal, our Houston Community Newspaper partner.

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