By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) -
Someone in the 4500 block of Adkins in South St. Louis is sick of crime. At least half a dozen laminated warning signs directed at criminals are duct-taped to trees, stop signs and street lamps. The message: neighbors are sick of crime, they're armed and ready to take action if the crimes don't stop.
On a late summer night neighbors who live on Adkins have a lot to say about crime.
"I've lived here all my life," Ken Rungert said. "There's a lot more break-ins, a lot more thefts."
Jennifer Andersen has seen the same thing.
"There have been garage break-ins," she said. "A neighbor across the street got their car stolen yesterday."
Sometime Thursday, the signs appeared. The signs say 'we don't call the police until after we apprehend the criminal. 80 percent of the people living on this street are armed and have had enough.'
The sign goes onto say 'you have 60 to 70 angry armed citizens who stay up late, waiting, watching, hoping someone is dumb enough to break into their car or their home.' At the bottom of the sign it says 'do yourself a favor and pick a different neighborhood or you could be on the news.'
Sam LaFrank hadn't noticed the signs until Newschannel 5 called them to his attention.
"I'm not surprised that somebody would post that up there. But I don't really put too much validity into the threats and intimidation aspects of it," he said.
Jennifer Andersen alerted Newschannel 5 to the signs.
"They don't make me nervous that whoever put up the signs would do something to harm me," Andersen said, "but they make me nervous that someone might get angry enough to retaliate against the citizens on the street."
While it's clear that someone in the neighborhood is fed up with crime, neighbors question whether the signs will do any good.
"Anytime you're promoting guns, no," said Calvin Bryant who regular visits his uncle who lives on Adkins. "The best thing to do is to pick up the phone and call 911."
Newschannel 5 contacted St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce about this story and this was her response:
"Every neighborhood in the City of St. Louis has the potential to reduce crime. Individuals in this community who choose to participate in keeping their neighborhoods safe and hold criminals accountable are the most powerful force in crime prevention and reduction. While I understand this level of citizen frustration, this vigilante approach is very dangerous and not the way in which citizens should get involved in crime reduction.
"I encourage all citizens who are interested in the safety of their neighborhood to call my office and get involved. There are many community-based, non-aggressive crime-fighting tools available for community groups who want to form their own safety committees and Neighborhood Ownership Plans. Many neighborhoods in the city have adopted and implemented plans that work for them and they are having success reducing crime in a non-violent way.
If you are a victim or witness to a crime or suspect criminal activity in your neighborhood, please dial 911."