CREATED Jun 24, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
THREE POINTS, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Homeowners in a rural Pima County subdivision are prepared to take matters into their own hands. The Three Points residents say there's too much crime where they live and law enforcement isn't doing enough to stop it. It's led to one neighbor posting an unmistakable warning for criminals.
The homemade sign on the corner of Hilltop and Fullerton reads: "You bastard burglars: get ready to die very soon."
Neighbor Vance Combs doesn't know who wrote it, but isn't surprised at the message.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Combs, “Do you feel like a lot of people in the neighborhood feel that way?” “I know a lot of people in the neighborhood feel that way,” he answered. “A lot of people have made it well aware that they're going to start using fire power and personal protection.” Keen said, “That sounds dangerous." “To a criminal,” Combs replied.
Combs said those criminals took firearms and electronics from his home last fall. Other neighbors said they lost jewelry, gold and cameras.
Just how common is the crime here? 9 On Your Side searched Pima County Sheriff's Department online reports. In a several-mile radius, since the beginning of the year, there were 10 cases of breaking and entering, 13 thefts and one robbery, among other offenses.
Too much crime, neighbors complained, and not enough action to stop it. Combs and others said the sheriff's department response is slow and inadequate. Many have lost confidence.
“Do you know of crimes that have happened that have not be reported to the sheriff's department?” Keen asked Combs. “Yes,” Combs said, to which Keen asked, “Why?” “Why?,” Combs repeated. “If they're not going to take the time to do it, why show that your house was already involved? Why show that your family's already been taken advantage of?”
The department told 9 On Your Side it had not heard these specific complaints about the burglaries and people need to report crimes.
“All of these incidents are taken very serious,” said Deputy Tom Peine. “When we get a report of a burglary, immediately detectives will look into it.”
“We only investigate what we know about,” the agency spokesman said, adding people can call to report suspicious activity or tips about past crimes.
Peine said people need to be patient with these types of investigations and detectives have made progress.
“The burglaries and thefts that we are aware of and that we investigated, we have made arrests on those cases,” he said. “[In other cases,] arrests are pending and other investigations are still ongoing.”
Combs said if and when the criminals are arrested, they’re taken off the street only temporarily.
“This is more of a catch-and-release program than it is actually detaining and doing something,” he said, adding the county attorney’s office could do more to prosecute the serial thieves as well.
Sheriff’s department online crime records show the deputies made 96 “proactive policing” visits to the area since the beginning of the year. Most are classified as a deputy responding to calls of suspicious activity.
That's not enough for neighbors like Combs.
“What would you like the sheriff's department to do?” Keen asked Combs. “Step it up,” he replied. “Step it up. Do the job or the people out there are going to start doing it.”
The sheriff's department added that if anyone has a complaint about a deputy's or the agency's performance, you can lodge a complaint online.