HOUSTON -- One of Houston's largest neighborhoods will soon have hired guns. The Oak Forest subdivision, outside of 610 North Loop West and Ella, is the third largest neighborhood in Houston, with 5,500 homes.
Homeowners have raised a large amount of money to hire private security. Residents were tired of crime: crooks targeting cars and houses.
Tracy Brandon and her daughter were hit in April.
“I called 911 twice, it took about 45 minutes for H.P.D. to get there,” Brandon said. “It is scary. We didn't come home for three days and it was really hard to explain to her what happened.”
After a rash of crimes, residents fought back. In six weeks, they raised $216,000 through fundraisers, corporate donations, and homeowners' fees to pay for their own private security.
“In my case it was $20,000 in damage and stolen property,” Brandon said. “(I’ll) gladly pay for the $250 a year.”
That's a lot of money to some, especially senior citizens like Elbert Wood. You may remember the World War II veteran had the inside of his home vandalized back in January. Now "angels" are underwriting his and several other veterans’ contracts.
“I informed him of the donation made in his name and, again, like I said, he was very moved by it,” said George Dobek. “In fact, he was moved by all the things his neighbors have done."
That $200,000 means a one year security contract with S.E.A.L.'s officers. They are all certified K-9 handlers, who carry guns and batons and trained to detain suspects for police.
S.E.A.L. patrols 45 Houston subdivisions and business is growing.
“I think over the last couple of years we've seen a 30-40% in providing security for homeowners’ associations,” said S.E.A.L.’s Director of Operations James Alexander.
The year-long contract means everyone benefits from extra security. Subscribers, who pay $250 a year, get extra benefits such as vacation watch and residential safety escorts.