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Criminals, watch out

With the formation of a new neighborhood watch program, the residents of Morgan Ranch are sending a message to potential burglars, vandals and speeders that they won’t get away with anything, so why try.

About a dozen Morgan Ranch residents, many over the age of 65 and retired, gathered on Morgan Ranch Drive near Horizon Circle Friday with Grass Valley police and a costumed McGruff the Crime Dog to put up their new neighborhood watch signs.

“This is all about watching out for each other,” said Grass Valley City Councilmember Jan Arbuckle. “It’s back to the old days, when neighbors knew neighbors.”



A few small neighborhood watch programs have sprung up in Grass Valley neighborhoods during the past few decades; the Morgan Ranch group is the largest one in the area, said Grass Valley Police Officer John Hererra, who coordinated the formation of the new program.

Arbuckle and the Grass Valley Police Department hosted a meeting last spring to educate residents on neighborhood watch programs, and 70 Morgan Ranch residents showed up, Arbuckle said.




“Only a few people had attended previous meetings,” she said. “But this time, there was a lot of interest.”

Morgan Ranch residents recently had encountered a few incidents of vandalism and attempted burglary, and they wanted a proactive solution to prevent any further problems, Hererra said.

“A neighborhood watch program is a relationship between citizens and police,” Hererra said. “We empower them with education, the safety dos and don’ts of being a homeowner.”

Police talk to homeowners about protecting property belonging to them and their neighbors with common-sense measures, such as collecting a neighbor’s mail and newspapers while they’re on vacation, not leaving lawn tools in the front yard and keeping the garage door closed, Hererra said.

The education came in handy a couple of weeks ago when some juveniles took a car parked on Horizon Circle for a joyride, Morgan Ranch resident Leo Wielmann said.

“Residents called police and went after (the juveniles),” Wielmann said, clutching his walking cane. “They followed them and told police where they were.”

Grass Valley Police Officer Brian Hooper safely apprehended the juveniles on his motorcycle, he said.

Hooper, who attended the neighborhood watch gathering with Officer Herrera and Sgt. Scott Telles, said he hoped the program would help to reduce speeding in the area. Residents and students from nearby Nevada Union High School often drive too fast on the residential roads, he said.

“Now people will be watching,” Morgan Ranch Drive resident Matt DePauli said. “We’re getting better acquainted with each other and (residents) are paying more attention to what’s going on in the neighborhood.”

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To contact Robyn Moormeister, e-mail rmoormeister@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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