Neighborhood Block Watch Catches New Haven Criminals

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    NEWSLETTERS


    Any time there's suspicious activity around the East Rock section of New Haven, the SoHu Neighborhood Association is on the case and makes sure police are too.

    "They can't be here at all times so that's how we help them by calling whenever we see something," said Lisa Siedlarz, a block watch leader, who emailed East Rock residents and worked with police in this past Saturday's arrest. "We make them aware of when there are problems going on."

    In fact they've encouraged neighbors to put out decoy packages in front of their homes in an effort to fool or frustrate the latest package thief--another of which happened Monday on Clark Street.


    "It brings everybody together, it gets everybody involved," added Siedlarz, who got involved six years ago with the then 13 person block watch.

    Today that number has jumped more to more than 400 people in East Rock.

    "It gets everybody to know each other and when that happens you start looking out for each other and caring,” said Siedlarz.

    It began when the neighborhood had a rash of car break-ins so Siedlarz and others formed this group that was part community organizing, part crime fighting.


    "The idea that we're just helping police. We're another avenue," said Diane Casella, a longtime East Rock resident. "The police can't be the eyes and ears everywhere."


    Though they've added more patrols after the package thefts, New Haven police say it's groups like these that make their jobs easier and the city safer.


    "We are very fortunate here in this neighborhood that there is a very tight knit and active block watch," said David Hartman of the New Haven Police Department.

    "We're not solving crimes. We're just putting together some of the pieces of the puzzle that maybe the police don't have eyes on all the time," added Casella.


    The police even credit the Block Watch with creating an email list where if one person reports something everyone else in the neighborhood is aware of it.