Fed-up Estates at Westbury residents organize watch

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Fed-up Estates at Westbury residents organize watch

Published Sunday, November 13, 2011   |  565 Words  |  

A month after two people were robbed at gunpoint at a Bluffton condominium complex, some residents say they're still afraid and may band together to make their community safer.

At The Estates at Westbury, one woman says she sleeps with a hammer under her pillow. Another carries a can of mace when she walks to her car.

Wayne Keene, who has lived at the 300-unit complex off Buck Island Road for three years, said he and his wife, who are in their 70s, watch each other when they check the mail.

"We want to be able to live in a place where my wife can walk to the mailbox without the fear of being attacked," Keene said. "We just want to be safe."

Now, with help from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, about 30 renters and homeowners are forming a neighborhood watch, according to Jennie Krogulski, who rents a unit at the complex and is working to bring residents together.

Fights, vehicle break-ins and loud parties have long concerned Krogulski, but last month's robberies really alarmed her, she said.

On Oct. 9, a man was returning from the gym when two men held a gun to his head and pushed him into his apartment. They ordered him to lie on the ground as they searched his home. They took his gym bag, which contained a handgun, before running away.

On Oct. 12, a woman was watching TV at about 11:30 a.m. when four men rushed through her front door. An armed man forced her to lie on the floor of her bedroom with her face covered while the other three rifled through her belongings. They took a credit card and ran away.

Residents have begun carrying weapons, Krogulski said, and she installed a security system.

"I've called police nine times in the past 15 months," she said. "I've never been an activist before, but we're fed up."

The robberies remain under investigation, and no arrests have been made, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

The residents group's biggest concerns are lighting and security. It also hopes The Estate's homeowners association can find a quick and efficient way to alert residents when crimes occur.

The Sheriff's Office urges residents to immediately report any suspicious activity.

Sgt. Mike Jennings, who assists communities in setting up neighborhood watches, will meet with Estate residents, McIntosh said.

"We give communities the appropriate guidelines so they get the best results and stay within the law," she said.

A group formed in nearby Westbury Park recently had neighborhood-watch street signs installed, McIntosh said.

Krogulski said she and other residents plan to go door-to-door to meet neighbors to get the word out about the watch.

"I want a safe home," she said.

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For more information on crime prevention programs, including neighborhood watch, click here.

Second Westbury apartment resident robbed at gunpoint, Oct. 13, 2011

Man robbed at gunpoint outside apartment, Oct. 10, 2011