Neighbors in Kasilof and Sterling are organizing into Neighborhood Watch communities in response to dramatic increases in burglaries and acts of vandalism occurring in those areas.
Kasilof residents attended a meeting at Tustumena Elementary School on Thursday to discuss problems and to develop a plan for becoming a Neighborhood Watch community. Another meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday.
Organized by Jersey Subs co-owner Kathy Musick, the Kasilof meeting drew between 130 and 140 people.
Similar support was shown at a Neighborhood Watch organizing meeting in Sterling Sept. 26, when about 60 residents turned out.
"We had people there from every walk of life," said Helen Ware, organizer of the meeting and co-owner of Sterling Auto Parts.
"We handed out questionnaires to everyone there and everyone marked 'Yes' where it asked if they'd be interested in helping with Neighborhood Watch," she said.
The interest is in response to many recent burglaries of businesses, churches and some residences and to reports of vandalism in the communities.
"We are there to give them some ideas of things they can and cannot do (to combat the crime)," said Alaska State Trooper Lt. Charles Tressler, who attended the Kasilof meeting.
Tressler said the number of incidents in Kasilof has dropped considerably since this summer, and added that troopers have turned up several leads and "will have some arrests soon."
"The meeting in Kasilof was a very supportive meeting. It was a very informative meeting; it was a very good meeting," he said.
Troopers plan to have an officer at Thursday's meeting as well.
"One thing I'll say about Kasilof, most people keep to themselves, but when something is affecting the community drastically like this, they all pull together -- they really do," Musick said.
The next meeting planned in Sterling will be around the end of the month, said Ware, whose business was burglarized two years ago.
"It's going to take effort on everyone's part," she said. "In order for (Neighborhood Watch) to work, people are going to have to put out some effort."
Burglaries that occurred in the Sterling area this summer include Mom and Dad's grocery, Sadler's Home Furnishings, Suzie's Cafe, Kenai Peninsula Harley Davidson, Golden International Restaurant, Regal Interiors and Noble Car Wash.
Other burglaries were committed at Sterling Baptist Church and Soldotna Church of Christ.
The spate of summertime burglaries also victimized several coffee and espresso stands along the Sterling and Kenai Spur Highways.
Three were hit again Wednesday, including The Coffee Spot, Coffees and Cream and CJ's Espresso.
Ware said troopers recently began placing stickers on business' doors reporting that a security check was made while the business was closed.
"That really gives me a good feeling ... knowing that someone is watching," she said.
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