Community Cleanup Fights Crime

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After five robberies in the span of a month, Moores Park residents are taking things into their own hands. Never mind that those things are weed whackers and hedge trimmers.

More than a dozen people flocked the neighborhood alleyways, trimming trees and shrubs -- something they hope will help fight crime.

"One of the things I've noticed and one of the things my neighbors have noticed also is the alleyways have become somewhat secluded over time," said Paul Johns, president of the Moores Park Neighborhood Organization. "A lot of homes are vacant and people aren't able to maintain the brush that's running over into the public right of way. Our goal today is to clear that brush back, make it more visible for patrolling police officers, and it also unifies the neighborhood."

The alleyways are public spaces. Some homeowners use them to access their properties or garages. Kids often cut through on their bikes. And lately, residents say criminals are using the heavily vegetated area to hide from the police.

"Let's say I wanted to break into that house," said Johns, placing himself near an overgrown bush. "Police are going to drive by, they're not even going to be able to see me from the road here. Especially at night and especially without any lighting in the alley."

The work revealed previously hidden sidewalks and structures. Johns said he didn't even know there was a streetlight in the alley until the garden work uncovered one. Other residents said they didn't know some of the alleys existed in the first place.

City Councilmember Jessica Yorko helped organize the event, along with Councilmember Kathie Dunbar. The city paid for pizza and will pay for removal of the yard waste come Monday.

Neighbors said they were happy to see the community come together.

"It is the reasons you move to neighborhoods like this," said Kevin Goodwin, who lives in the area. "You have folks that want to come out and public officials who come out and help and everybody who can come out on a nice day."

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