ST. LOUIS — Neighbors in St. Louis Hills have taken matters into their own hands to keep their streets safe.
A network of surveillance video showed a group of people going car to car Tuesday night and pulling on door handles appearing to steal.
Tom Scheifler, chair of the St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association’s Safety Committee, told 5 On Your Side on Wednesday the neighborhood has installed 136 cameras deployed in a 1.1 square mile area.
The new security initiative began in March but it has been developed over the last year and a half.
It includes an installation of surveillance cameras and a private duty officer who can monitor the automatic alerts from those security cameras and respond when necessary.
Residents and businesses donate $15 per month to support that single off-duty officer and purchase their roughly $150 camera.
“We're trying to augment what the police force is already doing for the city. Right? We know that they're down on resources. That they have limited staff,” Scheifler said.
Scheifler said a violent carjacking down the street from him is why he decided to get involved in the group six years ago.
“It was a wakeup call to look at what was happening in the neighborhood in the city,” he said.
On Wednesday, he shared surveillance footage from the night before of a group of people going car to car and pulling on door handles.
"So far I'm very happy with it. We made donations to it. We see the guy patrolling around and sometimes that's all thieves need," said neighbor Jerry Naunheim.
Schaefer's Auto Care just up the road has their extra eyes hooked up too.
"Our neighborhood is everything so if it's good for our neighborhood, it's good for our business. I mean it protects everybody. I mean it's awesome. Soon as we found out about it. We jumped on it right away," owner Troy Schaefer said.
5 On Your Side asked Scheifler about other neighborhoods in St. Louis that might not be able to afford the system.
“I'm offering that software at cost not only to my own neighborhood but to any neighborhood in St. Louis City,” he responded.
In addition, he noted he contacted the new Board of Alderman and the Public Safety Committee to talk about the program to see if it could benefit constituents but had not heard back.
Scheifler noted that the officer has made two arrests since the program started and was able to deter other incidents from happening.