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Neighborhood Watch Addresses Package Theft

Jan 28, 2016 11:33AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Elizabeth Suggs | Elizabeth.s@mycityjournals.com

Sugar House - During the holidays, Sugar House residents were privy to package theft. 

Since the S-Line has been constructed, according to Barb Shelley, one of the founders of the Highland High Area Neighborhood Watch group, people who otherwise wouldn’t have found their way into the Sugar House neighborhood have taken advantage of the railway system and stolen anything that “wasn’t nailed down.” 

To combat the thievery of packages, as well as many other crimes in the Sugar House neighborhood, Shelley founded the Highland High Area Neighborhood Watch Group with her neighbor a year ago.

“We finally had it up to our frustration limits with all the burglaries and prowls,” Shelley said. “Sugar House has a particular vulnerability due to being close to two freeways. Thieves can hop off the freeway, rob us and jump back on the freeway before we even know we have been robbed.” 

With 190 members on Highland High Area Neighborhood Watch Facebook group, as well as 40 members over email, Shelley does most of the coordinating and posting to keep everyone informed. 

As the volunteer group facilitator, Shelley keeps in contact with the District Community Intelligence Unit officer, to give information or ask questions, the SLC Council representatives, and the chair of the Sugar House Community Council. Shelley also coordinates with the media and Sugar House businesses who are facing crime. 

Because of her role in the group, Shelley has brought Sugar House’s stolen package problem to the police’s attention by forwarding the Fox 13 story of stolen packages to District 7 Community Intelligence Officer Tyler Lowe. 

“[Lowe] replied in email and said that the Salt Lake City Police Department is not going to follow up on the idea at this time, but they might consider the idea in the future.” Shelley said. “He then provided me with a list of suggestions of how to avoid having packages stolen off one’s porch. It was nice of him to share ideas, but none of the ideas are new to this group.” 

According to Shelley, suggestions don’t always work and for Gina Zigar, Sugar House resident, she still had her package, a Christmas present for her husband, stolen just days before Christmas. 

Zigar knew immediately the package had been stolen after receiving information from the UPS that it was delivered when she was out, and when Zigar returned home there was no package. 

“We know most of our neighbor’s and they own their own homes like we do,” Zigar said, “but because of our proximity to bus lines and downtown, I feel like we have people walking through [the neighborhood].”

Within the last seven years, Zigar’s neighborhood has encountered a hit and run on her car parked on the street, a car window broken, another car broken into and a backpack stolen off her porch. 

“I guess when I list it like that it doesn’t sound like a good neighborhood.” Zigar said. 

Prior to the incident, Zigar had never had a package stolen and she doesn’t expect to get it back. 

“Before forming the neighborhood watch group, I heard comments of denial ‘Oh, no, we don’t have crime in our neighborhood. We live on the “good” side of town.’ I rarely hear that anymore,” Shelley said. “Now people realize that Sugar House is seen as a target. We are viewed as a place where ‘the good stuff’ is.” 

“I don’t know if I would say that this will stop package theft unless many people begin to do this and it becomes a common thing,” Detective Richard Chipping said. “Package theft is a crime of opportunity. The best thing you can do is make sure to send the package to a secure location or be there to receive the items.”

To contact Shelley or the neighborhood watch  group, look up Highland High Area Neighborhood Watch on Facebook or contact Shelley through email: barbshelleyprcommunications@gmail.com.  

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