Valley residents organize town hall to discuss crime, SB91, neighborhood watch
A group of Wasilla residents are frustrated with continuing property theft in their neighborhood and are trying to do something about the problem.
Pat Merow is the vice president and co-owner of Orion Construction Inc. He said his business has been hit three times by thieves in the past month.
“They ripped the hinges off. They stole big tools out of our job trailers, tore through the locking mechanism on these trailers,” Merow pointed out.
He said each of their six trailers has had its lock cut twice.
Surveillance footage captured the burglaries and even a car theft.
“They took a pick ax out of that and went into our travel trailer and ripped all the electronics out of our travel trailer,” Merow said. “They stole the vehicle right here at 8:15 in the morning after one of our superintendents showed up for work.”
When they got the car back, they found several copper lines from heating systems piled up in the trunk.
“They stole their heating fuel lines right out from a working stove,” Merow said, adding they also found half a trash bag filled with mail with Palmer addresses.
Merow is organizing a town hall meeting for Thursday night so people can get together with Alaska State Troopers and elected officials to see what can be done.
He said with the low trooper staffing levels in the Valley, it’s hard for them to handle the large volume of petty theft. Merow also believes Senate Bill 91 is contributing to the problem because people aren’t facing harsh enough penalties for their crimes.
“Even if [troopers] take them to jail, they get out before they’re done booking them,” he said.
For now, he’s urging people to start neighborhood watch programs in their area.
“Until the laws get changed to where they can put some of these folks in jail, I think watching your neighborhood as a community and coming together to watch out for your neighbors is the best thing folks can do,” Merow said.
Down the street, his neighbor Alvaro Nirino also had his trailer broken into.
“I think they’re looking for stuff that they can pawn quickly take easily,” Nirino said.
He’s got 16 security cameras around his home, one of which captured a thief making off with his two new chainsaws.
Nirino was able to recover two of his tools left outside in the ditch.
“I’m getting ready to go to church, 8:30 in the morning. Look both ways to pull out, see my router and my sander sitting there I’m like, ‘What the heck?’”
He also believes crime is on the rise and supports the town hall meeting to address the issue.
“When it hits home, you realize I need to get involved, I need to become a part of this,” Nirino said.
The meeting is Thursday, Nov. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at VFW Post 9365 on 301 E. Lake View Avenue in Wasilla.
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