Upper Kirby District residents unite to fight crime

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by Courtney Zubowski/11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 19, 2011 at 12:35 AM

HOUSTON -- Neighbors in the Upper Kirby District say they’re worried about what they call a spike in crime and now they’re forming a neighborhood watch group to do something about it.

“We’ve had the car windows of our vehicle taken right out, in front of our house, as have many other neighbors on our street,” said Upper Kirby District resident Freddy Warner.

Warner lives on Ferndale between Westheimer and Kirby.

It’s an area that’s seen a lot of changes over the last couple of years. There are new developments and new restaurants, bars and clubs.

Warner said the problem areas include his street, Ferndale, as well as Virginia and Sackett between Westheimer and Alabama.

Warner was one, of about two dozen residents, who attended a meeting at the Upper Kirby Room near Richmond and Eastside Tuesday night to come up with a plan. Warner said the Upper Kirby District does not have a homeowners’ association so they’re coming together to try and curb the crime.

Representatives from city council, the Houston Police Department, parking enforcement and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission were in attendance to answer questions.

“[The] main concern is safety and the ability to walk down the street without being accosted by predators,” said Upper Kirby resident Ryan Morris.

In the past 40 days, there have been 83 car burglaries in the district, according to the Houston Police Department. One robbery has been reported and there was a rape.

Investigators said a woman was attacked on Jan. 4 around 9:30 p.m. in her garage near Bammel and Kirby.

Police said a man with a gun followed her as she pulled into her driveway and, at first, he demanded money. According to police, she told the man she didn’t have her purse, and then the man forced her to take off her clothes and raped her.

He ran off and is still on the loose.

“Like a lot of women, I come home a lot and it could happen to anyone,” said neighbor Marcella Wilson.

HPD investigators checked the numbers and compared crime statistics from the same time period last year. During those same 40 days, the numbers were about the same. There were 86 reports of car burglaries, one robbery and no rapes.

Still, some homeowners say the numbers don’t tell the story.

They said it’s gotten worse with more noise problems, parking problems and fighting. Many blamed the influx of new bars and clubs.

“We think predators have come into the area due to the increased nightlife,” said Morris.

Morris and others plan to work with HPD and other agencies to try to, as they put it, “take back their neighborhood.”

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