Crimes committed by juveniles have been on the rise in several Charlotte neighborhoods, and neighbors are growing increasingly frustrated that the police simply apprehend and return them to their parents with little or no consequence.
The uptick in crime started two years ago, when a local 74-year-old woman, Norma Messer, was left for dead in her home after being brutally beaten by a group of teenagers. The culprits? Three young men whom she had tried to nurture over the years. She had hired them for odd jobs, taken them to lunch, and even given them Christmas presents. Miraculously, Norma survived the heartless attack, and has since become a victim’s advocate.
Susie Taylor, the Lead of Nextdoor Forest Pawtuckett, has lived in her neighborhood for 23 years and remembers when it was considered to be one of the best neighborhoods on the west side of the city. While Susie still loves her neighborhood, she is well aware of the uptick in crime, too.
“We have a lot of breaking and enterings, breaking into cars, coming into homes, just breaking the door down,” Susie said.
Fed up with the all of the crime, Susie and her neighbors have taken to Nextdoor to organize a robust neighborhood watch. Block captains send updates, and the community receives crime alerts from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, who partnered with Nextdoor in 2013.
Susie and her neighbors from the Pawtuckett-area recently used Nextdoor to organize and host a Community Crime Watch Meeting where a panel of experts – a juvenile court judge, the District Attorney, the Charlotte Police Department, and Norma Messer – each discussed the issue and informed residents about juvenile law.
While their ultimate goal is to stop juveniles from committing crimes in their community, Susie thinks her neighborhood has started to feel safer again thanks to the strength of their neighborhood watch and their use of Nextdoor.
“It’s pretty much, ‘You watch my back, I’ll watch yours,'” Susie said.
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