Residents Taking Crime Prevention Into Their Own Hands After String of Robberies

A rash of recent break-ins at an Estate Glucksberg neighborhood prompted residents to meet last week to discuss taking crime prevention into their own hands.

“Maybe we got a little lax because things had been quiet,” said neighborhood resident Cid Hamling. “It’s really up to us.”

No one has been arrested in the string of home robberies, including the robbery of a 12-year-old boy at gunpoint (see sidebar).

In response to the crimes, residents have become more vigilant in protecting themselves, and outlined several precautions at the neighborhood meeting.

Think Like Criminals
“When I first moved here, I said, ‘If I ever have to lock my front door at night, I’m going to leave,’” said Hamling, a long-time St. John resident. “Now, I lock my front door at night.”

Residents tried to put themselves in the shoes of the criminal to help spot their vulnerabilities.

“We have to start thinking like they do,” said Hamling. “I hate that mentality, but in my mind, we are being watched.”

Several neighbors described “casing” their homes, looking for things that would make the home inviting to criminals, including ladders resting up against the house, which can be used for easy entry through unlocked second-story windows.

One Glucksberg resident, a St. John Rescue member, offered to help neighbors reach the police after a crime had occurred with his two-way radio, which provides a direct link to V.I. Police Department officers in their vehicles.

Describe Where You Live
Residents also discussed how to help VIPD officers, many of whom are St. Thomas residents unfamiliar with the island, find their homes after a crime has occurred, something which in the past has taken as long as an hour and a half.

Hamling advised residents to be able to accurately describe where they live, including how many tenths of a mile they are from Centerline Road.

Hamling also advised Glucksberg residents to memorize the number to Leander Jurgen Command — 693-8880 — since calling 911 does not always work for St. John residents.

“The public can’t get through to the people who help us, and that’s scary,” said Glucksberg resident Teri Bertolino in response to one resident’s claim that no one answered when they called Leander Jurgen Command directly.

Increase Police Presence
One thing the police can do to help Glucksberg residents is increase their presence in the neighborhood, according to Bertolino.

“If we say anything to the police, it should be to increase their presence,” she said. “It never hurts to ask for them to get out on the road more.”

Glucksberg residents suffered no less than three robberies within the span of an hour on Friday, Aug. 18, something that could have been avoided if security measures were in place, according to Hamling.

“If someone had recognized the car the burglars were driving as one that doesn’t belong here, maybe people wouldn’t have been robbed,” she said.

Other measures Glucksberg residents decided to implement can work for almost any neighborhood interested in banding together to prevent crime:

Crime Prevention Tips
• Get to know your neighbors and the cars they drive. Exchange contact information, and let them know when you are going on vacation.

• Lock and secure your home and vehicle.

• Watch and note cars and people walking in your neighborhood that you do not recognize.

• If someone looks suspicious, write down their license plate number. If possible, take their picture with a camera phone or disposable camera.

• Develop an alert system with your neighbors. Use items like an air horn to alert them of someone suspicious, or if you are being robbed.

• Dogs and motion lights will often keep a criminal away from your home.