Guam – Barrigada residents who came together to put a stop to crime in their neighborhood, hope to see more neighborhood watch groups form in villages islandwide.
Working out of the Pereda home in radio Barrigada the Neighbor Watch Group began as the Mango Tree Committee which came together in response to an increase in crime in their village last year.
“We wanna create an environment that’s very uncomfortable for criminals to target our area,” Retired Police Chief and Watch Coordinator James Marquez told PNC. “With the help of the community the goal is to get them to observe and report and nothing else, let the police do the apprehending but they need our help and we need to work with the Guam Police Department to be successful.
Over in Barrigada Proper, Wil Castro organized a watch in his own neighborhood in January of last year after his family was victimized by burglary two times.
“It was during the first home invasion that they took the spare key to the car and when they came back into the bedroom of my house that they not only took personal items they also took the vehicle,” Castro recalled. “Thats what prompted me to get with my neighbors.”
The two groups were brought together after the Mango Tree Committee reached out to the Barrigada Mayors Office last June to launch a full village watch program.
Since then group member member Summer Skillman says they’ve seen a significant drop in crime in their community.
“On average we were having 70 incidents a month,” said Skillman. “Within a couple of months of the inception and us getting out there and getting fliers and talking to people it went to nominal numbers.”
The neighborhood watch group now has grown to include 300 members its email list. They also developed a text message tree to alert the community and have an active facebook group. Other villages have developed community watch programs as well and Marquez hopes to see the trend continue.
“We hope to see an isalndwide program one day,” Marquez said.
He adds that anyone interested in started a program in their village should contact their mayor, or call the Mango Tree Committee 687-2262.