More than 100 West Memphis homeowners meet with police after rash of burglaries

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- Homeowners in the northwest part of West Memphis aren't standing by to let crooks take over their neighborhood.

More than 100 people packed the cafeteria at Richland Elementary Thursday night to hear what police had to say after more than a dozen homes were broken into, allegedly by a group of teens.

"You expect to come home and your house is safe, and then you come home and it's either ransacked or tore up," said Mike Morrison, who lives just doors down from where two homes were burglarized last month.

Many who came to Thursday's meeting shared the perception that crime is a growing problem in their neighborhood.

"I have been broken into and three cars were stolen, and it's scary. I mean, for much, you feel violated," said Patty Clark.

But police say that in reality, crime in the northwest part of town is minuscule compared to crime in the city at large.

"I got more phone calls, more complaints, and more concerns over the 16 burglaries y'all had in the northwest than I've had over six homicides and 52 shootings," said West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes.

That's exactly the kind of proactive thinking police and residents are advocating.

"We really should have a neighborhood watch," said homeowner Larry Christianson.

Police echoed that suggestion Thursday. They also recommended people install alarms and burglar doors and make sure they have serial numbers for things like guns.

"We've just added the camera under the carport in case we can see somebody coming up," said Clark.

And when fancy, high-tech eyes in the sky won't do the trick, the old-fashioned ones can come in just as handy.

"That's why I've been talking to neighbors, people that are home, retired. I talk to them and say, you know, 'Keep your eyes out.'"