The house has sat empty for almost seven months. First the owner and his college buddies left, then his dad moved in with his wife (?), then they left and then someone moved in, and mysterious people began coming by and picking up little white boxes. Who knew: maybe they were selling lunches? Then the traffic picked up a little more. Then the night of the big party, there was loud music and a big fire pit in the backyard, and funny smells. At one o’clock in the morning, the music was interrupting our sleep, so we made a quick call to 911. (This was before all the cuts.) The police came out, and soon the party was over.
Then all was quiet, except for the traffic—day and night. Several months later we found out the tenants had had no water or electricity for about four months. How did they get along? Some neighbors were loaning them water with hoses run behind our houses. They were given 48 hours to vacate, and vacate they did, leaving a huge smelly mess. Remember it takes water to flush toilets. You guessed it: that’s where the smell mess comes into the story. First they were there, and then they were gone in the middle of the night.
Did we sit back and hide behind our curtains? Did we say it was not our problem? Did we close our eyes to this situation? No: this was our neighborhood, this is where we lived, where we had an active Neighborhood Watch. We made the necessary phone calls to our Community Service Officer (also before the cuts), code enforcement came, and soon the house was empty of people—or so we thought. But they did leave a huge mess in the house.
Soon we would see the side gate was open when it had been locked. We noticed every now and again someone would get into the empty house. How did they get in and why? Neighborhood Captains checked the backyard, and the sliding back doors were open; it was a mess. Police were called and came out (before the cuts) and would close up the house.
We boarded-up the gate to protect the house, which seemed unwanted, like no one cared about it. We tried contacting the owners at the last address we had, but the mail was returned as “undeliverable.” The house has not been foreclosed. It was as if time forgot the house, except those looking for a place to do drugs and to hang out where they thought they would not be caught.
The night the two men in the SUV came and began taking furniture was just too much for our neighborhood. We could have sat by and watched the trespassers at work and stealing furniture, but enough was enough. This is our neighborhood, where neighbors watch out for each one another, where if one person loses a family member, it is like we have all lost a relative, where we celebrate good and bad news together: this was our HOOD. We called the police (after the cuts) and they came. They were proud that we cared enough to get involved, and protect our area. Death’s around the corner, but not in our area if we stay alert. We didn’t catch the crooks, but the crooks knew we were there as we tried to get their license plate number. We did follow where they went.
Once again we boarded up the gates, boarded up the door and notified the only company we knew might care. They said they’d be out within 3 to 5 days to board the whole house up. Thanked us for caring and said it was okay for us to board the entrance until they could come out. They also could not believe we lived in Stockton and cared enough to be involved. It was with great pride as we told them we did care and we had a neighborhood who said, “NOT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, BECAUSE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”
We don’t need “Marshall Plans,” we need active Neighborhood Watches where neighbors know neighbors, like in the OLD DAYS. Where neighbors knew the kids on the block and watched out for them. Where when you went on vacations you knew your house was safe, because your neighbors watched out for your house, because next time it was your turn.
It is time to take back our neighborhoods. Care enough, and soon the gangs and crooks will know we have neighborhoods that say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
The house has sat empty for almost seven months. First the owner and his college buddies left, then his dad moved in with his wife (?), then they left and then someone moved in, and mysterious people began coming by and picking up little white boxes.