Theft sparks downtown neighborhood watch conversations

TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT)  –  After a theft at a local restaurant raises security concerns, some downtown Topeka business owners are wondering if a neighborhood watch could be the solution. Field of Greens will re-open on Tuesday. The restaurant has been without power since someone stole the copper wire to their building Saturday morning.

“We did get up early and started making those phone calls to see what we could do to prevent this from happening to our neighbors as well,” said Chris Schultz, the owner of Field of Greens.

Schultz has reached out to Safe Streets Topeka for ideas to make Downtown Topeka safer. He said the organization suggested a neighborhood watch or a citizens patrol program.

“We went through a training with the police department for what to look for, what to see. We have guys go out in the morning, some go out in the afternoon. Some of us have nothing to do so you just jump in the car and go ride around,” said Fred Martinez.

Martinez has been apart of a citizens patrol in the Rolling Meadows neighborhood for over a decade and regularly patrols 2-3 times a day. He believes it works. Since they began patrolling crime in their neighborhood has gone down by 97 percent according to Martinez.

However, he said it’s important to have a large group of people interested in the project. As crime goes up, so does interest, but when crime rates go down he said it’s difficult to get people to continue.

“Hopefully enough people would be willing to do that so there wouldn’t be a drain on any one person,” said Terry Xidis, the owner of Hazel Hill Chocolate.

Xidis said she and her husband would be interested in taking part in a downtown patrol. The couple lives above their business and she said the thick walls make it difficult to know what’s going on right outside.

If you are interested in starting a citizens patrol program in your neighborhood, Safe Streets said you should:

  • Contact your neighborhood group. (NIA, NA, HOA or Neighborhood Watch)
    • If you don’t have one, that’s the first step is to form a neighborhood group.
    • If you don’t know, find out by calling us at Safe Streets at 785-266-4606.
  • Have a meeting to gauge interest in the neighborhood. Safe Streets can explain the program in more detail as well as distribute applications.
  • TPD/Safe Streets will conduct trainings and work with respective neighborhoods individually on implementation.

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