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Victoria neighborhoods turn on the lights against crime (video)

By Bianca Montes
Oct. 1, 2013 at 5:01 a.m.
Updated Oct. 2, 2013 at 5:02 a.m.

Sergeant Eline Moya places a police badge sticker on Chevelle Twilley, 2, during the National Night Out event on Seguin Avenue.

Keepin' it safe

Victoria Police Department Chief J.J. Craig said the general concern of most neighborhoods he visited was car theft and burglary. So far this year, Victoria Police Department has reported 292 burglaries, 1,281 thefts and 40 robberies, according to the year-to-date crime statistics. Craig said a quick tip he offered to neighbors was to make sure their vehicles are locked and that their possessions are not in plain sight.

Heather McBride calls her puppy an escape artist, and after moving from her apartment to a home on Seguin Avenue, her 9-month-old border collie Labrador mix hopped the fence and disappeared.

She was devastated and took to social media to spread the word. By 9 p.m. that night, she said most of Victoria knew about her missing dog because of friends reposting her message; even Adopt-A-Pet and the Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center joined in on the virtual search.

But when her doorbell rang at 9:30 p.m., it wasn't one of her friends or a dog lover from online, it was her new neighbor. "Is Piper yellow or brown," the young woman asked, having seen the curious dog drinking the condensation off her daughter's window.

"It's nice knowing that your neighbors know who you are and who your pets are," McBride said. "With them, I know my dog is safe."

To pay it forward, McBride and another Seguin Avenue newbie, Christy Hernandez, hosted their area's first National Night Out Block Party on Tuesday evening.

The event is designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit, generate support and participation in local anticrime programs, heighten crime and drug prevention awareness and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back, according to the National Night Out website.

In 1984, Matt Peskin, president of National Association of Town Watch, introduced the concept of National Night Out, and 2.5 million Americans took part in the event in 400 communities across 23 states, according to the association's website.

Today, more than 37 million people and 15,000 communities participate, which includes the more than 42 neighborhoods in Victoria signed up to host a party during National Night Out, said Victoria Police Crime Prevention Officer John Turner.

"The more people on board that take an active approach to residential security will result in reducing the crime rate," Turner said. "The goal is to try to get everyone involved."

Nivory Stovall said although he's lived on Seguin Avenue for more than six years, Tuesday evening was one of the first times he had a conversation with a neighbor that went beyond a quick hello.

"My kids will tell you I don't go outside - It's all about 'Law and Order' or 'Sports Center' for me," he said as his four children picked his pockets for ice cream truck money. "This makes it feel more like a home, and they're helping bring everyone together."

On Seguin Avenue, children joyfully ran around, cupcakes in hand, searching for items on a scavenger hunt; parents and other adults conversed in the streets or on the beds of pickups parked in the driveway; dogs of all breeds met new friends and a live band performed. At the end of the night, they all slapped on neon bracelets and paraded down the street, walking past their new friends' and neighbors' home.

"I loved it," McBride said. "It's a good thing. A good way to get the community together, and I can't wait till next year."

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