CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) - An increase in thefts, home invasions, and squatters has encouraged some Clinton residents to step up and form a neighborhood watch group.
“This house, three days ago had a door on it, all windows,” said Cyara Peterson. “It was secured a week ago, within the last three days it's all being broken through,”
This is one of the many houses in Clinton that have been squatted. Homeowners are coming home to broken windows and trash left on their property.
“There’s a very big issue of squatters, people that own homes in this town,” said Peterson. “It’s not that they are not taking care of their home. It’s when people are renting out or moving out, squatters are watching that house,”
That's not the only problem that people living in Clinton are seeing.
"Vandalism, squatters, theft, drug paraphernalia left behind,” said Bobby Lucy.
The recent increase in crimes is what sparked the idea for Bobby, Cyara, and Jordan to start an online neighborhood watch group called "Clinton Iowa Watchdog"
“There's a growing epidemic of crime in this town that's going unsolved, unnoticed, and a lot of people in town are seeing it,” said Lucy.
The three friends live in different areas of town and each of them has seen their fair share of issues.
“A lot of people's families are being ruined due to the drug epidemic in Clinton,” said Jordan Guy.
Guy, Peterson, and Lucy say the focus of this group is community involvement. They plan to walk alleys, streets and report anything suspicious. Their goal is to bring everyone together so Clinton can become the town they once loved.
“Used to be a safe good place to let your kids play and go outside and what not,” said Guy. Now seven out of ten people aren't right now,”
“We got to stop it or else within five years, it's going to be terrible,” said Lucy.
“This is a wide spread issue throughout the whole town,” said Peterson.
Founders of the group say they know the police department is doing the best they can and their mission is to not stand in the way, but rather be an extra eye.
“We are not out here trying to be heroes, vigilantes. Not trying to fix this ourselves, we are going to work in accordance with the police officers,” said Peterson.
Although the problem won’t be fixed overnight. Together they know as a community they can come up with solutions. This group was recently created. So far around 700 members living in Clinton have joined.