WINFIELD | A recent spike in crimes, including vandalism and strong-armed robberies, will soon lead to a Community Watch Program in the town.
The Winfield Town Council recently heard a presentation about the program through the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. It voted Tuesday to proceed with setting up the program in neighborhoods throughout Winfield.
Sgt. Carl Porter said the program used in many communities throughout Northwest Indiana “is a crime deterent. It’s not meant to prevent bank robberies, but vandalism and other problems.”
Roving bands of teenagers have created both nuisances and vandalism, especially late at night and during the early morning hours, said Don Samburg, Town Council vice president, who spoke at the meeting and during a phone interview Wednesday.
Neighborhoods in Trees, DoubleTree West and Country Meadow Estates have experienced the “knock-and-dash” routines. Samburg said groups of teens pound on windows, doors and siding of houses usually around 2 a.m. and then scatter. The noise startles residents awake and has happened multiple times to some homes, he said.
Teenagers also have been responsible for vandalism in subdivisions all around Winfield, Samburg said.
In the Trees subdivision, a group of youths left a party at 2 a.m. and began pulling down mailboxes.
In another incident, a teenage male damaged a car by jumping up and down on it. The boy was naked at the time, Samburg said.
Teens have also entered homes through unlocked doors and stolen items, he said. This happened to Winfield Town Clerk Rick Anderson earlier this year.
“We will hold the teens and their parents accountable for the damages,” Samburg said.
Another frightening trend has emerged in Winfield with several strong-armed robberies, the council member said.
A home along Randolph just west of 123rd was targeted about six weeks ago. The perpetrators kicked in the door and stole a number of items. Fortunately, Samburg said, the resident wasn’t home.
DoubleTree West has been the site of one armed robbery that did involve residents and an attempt to gain entry, he said.
“On a Wednesday, two guys approached a house trying to gain entry. They were turned away. On the following Friday, three men walked into a house, locked the four family members in a bathroom and ransacked the house,” Samburg said.
“We need to do something now,” he said. “We have a lot of people in town who are energetic and enthusiastic. They will become involved in the Community Watch Program that gives the police eyes and ears on the streets.”