HOUSTON -- A Houston-based company with offices in London and Dubai that helps protect cargo ships from pirates is now helping a southwest neighborhood protect itself against common thieves.

As Officer Leroy Bill patrols the streets for the Sharpstown Civic Association, he looks and sounds like a cop.

We're looking for broke windows, and we're looking for kicked in doors, said Bill.

He and his fellow officers are certainly armed like cops and even have their own K-9 units. In reality, they are security officers for Seal Security, and they ve been contracted by the subdivision since November.

We actually patrol districts and subdivisions like this one to give them a little more security for their money, said James Alexander, Seal s director of operations.

The civic association used to contract with the constables office for a deputy to patrol the area, but now that it's gone with Seal security, it has three to four officers patrolling the streets at any given time, and at half the cost. Also cut in half: the number of monthly burglaries.

When a young mother in the neighborhood was recently stabbed multiple times in front of her children, a Seal security officer was the first to arrive on scene.

Our guy was on duty making a routine patrol. He comes around the corner and was flagged down, sees the assault, draws his weapon and breaks it up, said Jim Bigham, president of the Sharpstown Civic Association.

Bigham says the measure has saved the association roughly $200,000, while giving residents added peace of mind.

It's great. I feel a lot better, said Sharpstown resident Donna Fain. Last month, my dad's car was broken into, and I hear they've reduced the number of car break-ins by a significant amount.

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