Increasing number of thefts motivates community to take action –
By Patricia Beech –
A rash of robberies in the village of Manchester has prompted residents to take action they hope will make their town a safer place.
“People are uneasy and they’re ready to take back their village,” says Joey Darnell, who along with Annissa Cooper is spearheading an effort to form a neighborhood watch group.
“With no police presence in town and the sheriff’s department being short on man power, we think having eyes out on the street might help curb some of the thefts that are happening around the town,” said Darnell.
Nearly thirty residents attended a Tuesday evening meeting in the village’s community building to discuss plans on how to proceed with the watch and numerous others were not able to attend but still expressed their interest in the program.
“Several good ideas were presented,” said Darnell. “We are going to contact other areas where people have formed neighborhood watch groups to learn how they operate and what we are and aren’t allowed to do.”
Adams County Sheriff’s deputies have been the only law enforcement presence in the town since severe budget constraints forced the village council to disband the police department in March 2017.
According to Darnell, the number of thefts committed across the village have increased dramatically over the past several months.
“It’s become almost non-stop,” he says. “We’ve have numerous car break-ins, items stolen from people’s yards, and several home invasions.”
Among those attending Tuesday’s meeting were Sheriff Kimmy Rogers, Mayor Robert Hildebrand, members of the village council and local school board, as well as concerned residents.
“We had a diverse group, including Sheriff Rogers who is on board with our idea,” says Darnell, a father of two who coaches varsity boys basketball at Manchester High School.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, and we’ve had issues like this before, but now, without a police presence, we’ve got to take steps to turn it around, and the people of our small community are ready to do that. People are uneasy and ready to take back their village.”
According to Darnell, the thefts and break-ins have occurred in almost every area of the village.
“We’re in the planning stages, but we’re looking at breaking the town up into section or corridors,” he says. “There may be four or five people in a group who will be responsible for covering different sections between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.”
On her Facebook page, Cooper commented, ” I realize we aren’t able to stop all of the criminal activity, but I’m positive that we can make a difference in deterring some of it.”
She is currently creating a Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook.
A second meeting was planned for Thursday evening, Sept. 28.