WINFIELD | Crimes of vandalism and theft by juveniles are plaguing neighborhoods throughout Winfield and nearby Lakes of the Four Seasons.
To address what Winfield Town Council member Don Samburg called “a home-bred problem,” the Town Council is pursuing a curfew ordinance and a crime watch program.
Discussions about these two solutions generated support and suggestions at Tuesday’s Town Council study session.
Samburg is organizing the Winfield Crime Watch program in conjunction with the council, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and residents interested in participating in the program.
“We need to form a structure (for the crime watch program),” Samburg said during his presentation of the initial efforts. “None of our communities (neighborhoods) is being spared.”
Unlike other nearby municipalities, Winfield doesn’t have a curfew ordinance governing those younger than 18.
Town Attorney David Austgen will be directed to write a curfew ordinance with specific hours during weekdays and weekends. Council members asked that the curfew ordinance be ready for initial consideration at their next meeting July 23.
A public hearing will be necessary before final adoption, said Gerald Stiener, council president.
“We need to charge parents a significant fine,” council member Paulette Skinner said.
She recommended a $200 first-time fine for parents whose children are out past curfew and picked up by sheriff’s police.
“I’d like to see a $500 fine for the second time,” she said.
The recent arrest of two boys, ages 12 and 13 years, by Porter County Sheriff’s Department detectives in a string of thefts and vandalism in the Springwood Estates subdivision in nearby Porter County highlights the problem with juveniles, Samburg said. One of the boys is from Lakes of the Four Seasons.
Samburg said all the subdivisions in Winfield will be part of the effort, including DoubleTree West, DoubleTree East, Country Meadows, Trees, Stonegate and Stonegate Commons, Prairie Crossings, Hidden Creek, The Pointe, Wyndance, Deer Creek and The Meadows.
Skinner also asked that rural areas of Winfield be part of the program.
A steering committee for the crime watch program is also being formed, using a model available through the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Samburg said.
At the June 25 council meeting, Sgt. Carl Porter, of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department’s staff services division, presented information about that program.
In addition to the Sheriff’s Department, other partners in the crime watch program will include the representatives of private security companies working at some subdivisions and Lakes of the Four Seasons property manager Rick Cleveland, Samburg said.