9OYS Crime Watch: How safe is Sierra Vista?
Reported by: Jessica Chapin
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN9- TV) - In a city of 36 thousand people, crime-watch is all about knowing neighbors. While Sierra Vista has grown in the past couple of years, the crime rate hasn't.
Sierra Vista Police officer Tracy Grady says their calls have increased by six thousand since June, but she's not worried.
"That is a significant increase in calls for service, however property crimes and crimes against people have not changed significantly," she said.
Between 2007 and 2008, every type of crime in Sierra Vista decreased except for robberies, which went up by just four cases. The year saw a 16 percent total decrease, and 2009 saw another percentage point decrease:
Sierra Vista Crime:
2007 2008 2009
homicide 4 1 1
Rape 19 13 13
Robbery 19 24 22
Assault 91 73 73
Burglary 305 261 174
Theft 1228 1048 1159
Auto Theft 131 98 64
Arson 24 12 8
Total: 1821 1530 1514
9 On Your Side asked Sierra Vista police what they're doing to keep these rates low. Officer Grady says community programs and nosey neighbors are their greatest crime-prevention resources.
"The nosy neighbor is the best thing for us because we can't be everywhere all the time," she said, "We do have the crime-free multi-housing program with the apartment complexes and we do have some apartment complexes that are attempting to get certified with us but it is a pretty tall order and it requires a lot of work on their behalf."
The Crime-Free Multi-Housing program provides guidelines for apartment complexes, including lighting, locks, and safe property features.
Renee Hopkins with Sierra Carmichael Apartments has met that tall order. They participate in the program, holding yearly crime-prevention classes for their residents.
"We do our best to keep all of our trees trimmed, that way we can look into windows, we make sure doors are locked," she said, "we also make sure that all of our residents know to speak to one another, to become friendly with each other. That's the best way to fight crime on a big property like this is to know your neighbor and to know what's going on."
While property crimes make up more than 90 percent of the cases in Sierra Vista, that's not all residents are watching out for. Rachel Allee started a neighborhood watch group to solve her concerns about a nearby park.
"With the drugs and the kids being in the park, they would spend the night there," she said, "So we were concerned that they would start coming into the houses and staying there, squatting there and then the neighborhood would go downhill."
The program is now in its third year, and she says it's working very well. As neighbors spend time checking on the park, drug dealers are checking out.
"We don't have to go down there as often, the children are now playing there like we wanted them to," said Allee.
Overall, Sierra Vista had about 15 hundred criminal cases in 2009, and police say 2010 is shaping up to be the same. It gives several residents in tight-knit neighborhoods confidence in their community.