Aug 20, 2012 8:33 PM by Matt Stafford

Neighborhood watch group stops crime in progress

Two juveniles were arrested over the weekend in Colorado Springs for breaking into a car on Churchwood Circle; they were stopped by a self-appointed group of neighbors keeping an eye on things.

"We're making T-shirts this weekend, I don't care what anybody says," says Ryan Jackowiak, one of the neighbors in the group.

There maybe new uniforms on the way for this neighborhood watch group, which is finding a new importance after the weekend's events.

"It wasn't official; we had a group but we didn't go walking around the neighborhood or have meetings or anything," explains neighbor Paul Bank.

Really it was just a group of neighbors that shared their phone numbers in case something happened; Sunday morning around four the "phone tree" went to work. One car had been broken into but a car alarm stopped burglars at the next one.

"Alarm's going off, Ryan called, so I quickly put contacts in and I grabbed a piece of wood and came outside," says Bank.

"We never really formulated a plan, per se, as much as we just kind of took care of business finding out where these guys were," adds Chris Gardiner; another neighbor.

The three neighbors waited and when the burglars came back they were ready. They chased them down and found the burglars hiding in some bushes.

"We caught them right down in here," says Jackowiak, pointing at bushes along a neighboring home. The first one stood up immediately with his hands up, and then that was the window wall where we found the second one."

At that point the neighbors saw the burglars were kids; one ran off but police later found him. It was a 13-year-old and 15-year-old, but the neighbors didn't know that at the time; that's why they initially had the weapons -- a stick and a bat.

"I had friends in trouble and that kind of came first in this situation," explains Bank.

Colorado Springs police say while they don't recommend regular citizens taking in criminals, this was good cooperation between people and the police department.

"I didn't really think of the bad that can happen, but legitimately the police are right when they say you probably shouldn't, but we did and it paid off," says Bank.

Bank and the others hope it sends a message that these neighbors have no intention of becoming victims.

The two teenagers were charged with felonies for burglary of motor vehicles along with other misdemeanors; including possession of marijuana. They were released to their parents on promises they'd show up for court.



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