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Oakland neighborhood uniting to help deter crime in their streets

Oakland neighborhood banding together to help deter crime in area
Oakland neighborhood banding together to help deter crime in area 03:37

OAKLAND — In Oakland's Laurel District, neighbors on and near Georgia Street are uniting to keep each other safe following a number of home burglaries and violent assaults.

Neighbors said they noticed a big uptick in crime on their street in the last six months.

One of the latest incidents was recorded by a surveillance camera.

The footage showed that on Thursday morning at about 11:30 a.m. two masked men with hoodies walked up to Anne Battersby's house on Georgia street. Her husband, Greg Battersby, was away at the time.

"I came out to the dining room, and someone was jumping up in the window. And then I just said, 'Oh no, you're not going to do that," said Anne Battersby. "I think the retired teacher in me came out."

She is also the Neighborhood Watch block captain on her street. She said, once the two burglars saw her, they ran down the stairs to a waiting car.

"I don't get scared; I get mad," said Battersby.

She came out of her house and got the license plate. She called 911, but because the burglars had already left, it was no longer a crime in progress.

She said police never came to investigate. She gave the dispatcher the license plate information and found out from neighbors the same car and burglars successfully broke into a neighbor's house a short time later.

"I don't blame the police. At the same time, it is daunting that you know now somebody can be ready to break in, and nobody is going to come out," said Anne Battersby.  

Neighbors said because of a shortage of police officers, they feel helpless and on their own. 

Many neighbors on Georgia Street have experienced crime in recent months, including an October shooting. The people inside a black car fired 17 shots at a white car that was driving away.

Also in October, a man shoved a UC Berkeley student in front of her house, took her purse, and drove off with her car.

"Earlier this year in my backyard, two doors got broken. They came in and searched my house," said neighbor Betty, who declined to provide her last name.

The neighbors have been working together to help each other. And on Sunday morning, they met again at Anne Battersby's house to brainstorm solutions.

"Lights: we're going to try all get motion lights," said Anne Battersby as she recapped the solutions the group came up with. "It's a good idea to have your neighbors, in front of you, next door, on speed dial."

They also talked about installing cameras, gates, and communicating via WhatsApp. But they said no amount of technology can beat eyes and ears.

"I think our biggest defense is unity with our neighbors and talking," said Anne Battersby.

The crime wave forced some neighbors to plan their move out of Oakland.

"I'm being pushed out, that's the way I feel, by the crime, the quality of life here," said neighbor Carl, who declined to give a last name.

Others like Anne Battersby believed by uniting together they can bring change.

"It's a little crazy right now, but we're dug in. Not leaving," said Mari Hudlin and David Hurley, who also live on Georgia Street.

"I'm optimistic about Oakland because of the people who live here. And I think we're a resilient bunch," said Battersby.

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