Oct 052005
Authors: Brandon Lowrey

Minimizing opportunities for criminals is key to crime prevention, a police officer said Wednesday night to a group of concerned residents whose neighborhood east of campus was recently rocked by two home-invasion robberies.

Crime Prevention Officer Susan Vance outlined tips ranging from which kinds of lights to buy to what to do if you come home to a ransacked house-run-and what to do if a stranger knocks on your door.

"Never, ever open your door to a stranger," she said. "I can't emphasize that enough."

Vance mentioned recent cases where a robber would knock on a door and force his way past whoever opens it. In another instance, a woman let in a stranger claiming to be a magazine salesman. He grabbed her, forcibly kissed her on the mouth and fondled her before he left, Vance said.

The officer also showed a graph of 911 calls from the area since 2004. Reported traffic collisions and thefts topped the chart.

However some of the residents, drawn by fliers that suggested the meeting would focus on recent events in their neighborhood, didn't feel they got what they came for.

"I didn't get a chance to hear about anything," said Michelle Bunnell. "I'm hearing a lot of disgruntled neighbors."

Others said they were encouraged by the attendance of several dozen of their neighbors.

The neighborhood boundaries were set by Laurel Street to the north, Remington Street to the west, Pitkin Street to the south and Whedbee Street to the east. This neighborhood's southwestern side, the 1200 block of Remington Street, had seen two apparently related home-invasion robberies in recent months.

Four suspects were arrested after a neighbor shot one of the armed robbers.

Vance said residents need to stay vigilant and contact officers when crimes occur, otherwise the criminals would be unlikely to be caught.

"Police can't do it for you," Vance said. "The neighborhood has to take the initiative."

Some responded with problems they've had with the Fort Collins Police Services' response, claiming dispatchers and occasionally officers have not been receptive.

CSU student Ryan Cook said he has witnessed a man trying to break into cars in his townhouse parking lot and contacted police. He had taken pictures, he said, and even seen the man on the CSU campus. He was among the several residents who claimed dispatchers or officers shrugged the incidents off.

Vance suggested other methods to witnesses of possible crimes, including asking to sign as a witness, and told residents to avoid claiming anonymity-it makes it more difficult for responding officers to find crimes.

After the presentation, many residents said they felt better, though the officer brought to light some residents' vulnerabilities.

"We're definitely going to do something about our home security," said resident Marty Welsch. Her husband, Stan Welsch, chimed in: "We're not going to leave it up to our dog anymore."

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