Looking out for the community

Neighborhood watch members discuss low turnout, importance of group

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Due to a recent hash of break-ins and incoveniences in her life, Yvonne McAnally is looking to make a difference in Craig.

McAnally, of American Northwest Realty, is trying to drum up interest in a new version of a neighborhood watch.

From 2005-10, Craig had a well-organized neighborhood watch, designed to help neighbors and community members look out for each other and prevent crimes from happening at their homes, in their cars or in public places.

It was a part of the Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse (COMA) in Craig at the time. Victory Vision owner Ron Schaeffer was a committee member of the Neighborhood watch then, but said it dissolved when COMA disbanded in late 2010.

In the past year, McAnally dealt with break-ins at several properties she manages through American Northwest.

“I had two of my vacant rentals broken into with no suspects, and then our front office window was broken into,” McAnally said. “I just thought, ‘what can I do as a community member.’ Being a community member I wanted to find a way to get involved and get a handle on the crime that’s been going on.”

So McAnally reached out to Schaeffer, and they set up monthly neighborhood watch meetings starting in February. For the first four months, there was a small interest.

But more recently, it dwindled, and the watch has not met since August, when only McAnally and Schaeffer showed up.

Schaeffer believes this is in part due to the fact that many people have not been affected by crime recently in Craig, which he acknowledged is a good sign for the community. But he thinks a neighborhood watch can be very valuable.

“Citizens can have their own watch program in a more informal setting by merely looking out for each other, and that’s fine,” he said. “They need to be additional eyes for the Craig Police, because they can’t cover all of Craig all the time.”

Despite the recent lack of support, McAnally is hopeful the watch can become strong again and provide Craig citizens with more peace of mind. She stressed that it doesn’t have to be a major time commitment or investigative group.

“I want to get this going again, not just for break-ins, but for children too,” McAnally said. “I think people when they think of a neighborhood watch program they think of it as being a cop. That’s really not it. It’s just being aware of the normal activities and happenings in your area.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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