FAIRFIELD TWP., OH (FOX19) - Fairfield Township residents are dealing with an unwelcome turn of events.
It is a community where it's not that unusual for people to leave their cars and their homes unlocked, until a recent series of break-ins and robberies.
People are taking matters into their own hands and doing what they can to keep themselves and their neighbors safe. They're doing it the old-fashioned way. And part of that is knowing who's a part of their neighborhood, keeping their eyes open and picking up the phone when people or things look suspicious.
Only two doors down from Kirk and Marianne Troutman, their neighbors could not believe they'd been robbed.
"Well, we couldn't either," said Marianne Troutman. "So that's part of the reason we formed the neighborhood watch because it's not normal."
"When you spend, in my case 5 years, in some cases 20 years, without ever having a single incident, and then all of the sudden, it's widespread throughout the neighborhood, that kind of shakes you a little bit," she said.
There have been laptops stolen, wallets stolen, money stolen, car stereos have been stolen, even sheds getting broken into last summer as well.
"You feel victimized even if it didn't happen directly to you."
And like the Troutman's dog Rowdy, who we saw playing in the yard with his toy, he disappeared with it soon as we weren't watching.
In many neighborhoods, things can disappear just like that.
"One case in particular," said Michael Oler with the Fairfield Township Police Department, "a guy ran into a local store and he was gone probably five minutes, he left his billfold, GPS in the car and in five minutes he came out it was gone."
Oler has set-up community watch programs all over Fairfield Township. They've had 70 break-ins or robberies in cars between June and July, which is a record for the quiet community.
"We've preached the same message forever basically," Oler said. "Do not leave valuables in your car, people have this sense that cars are secure when they lock them."
Police said you should always remove your GPS and all valuables out of your car, especially the clamp that holds your GPS. Make sure you remove that and also get rid the circles it leaves behind. Those telltale signs on your windshield will tell somebody, you might have something else valuable hidden inside.
"They'll see that suction cup mark on there and sometimes that's enough for them to want to get in the car and see if it really is there and most times it is there," Oler said.
"There has been a lot of growth," Marianne Troutman said. "A lot of new families moving in, a lot of teenagers with nothing to do in the summertime."
"A lot more kids that are not from this neighborhood walking around here that are probably coming from other neighborhoods nearby," Kirk Troutman said.
"And obviously," Oler said. "They decided to do some additional shopping later in the night. A car is not safe, period!"
Oler also said, in many cases, people were afraid to call the police for fear of "bothering them." Oler said by all means, "bother them", that's what the police are there for.
His next meeting with that group is Wednesday, August 4 at 6:30 p.m. on the Troutman's front lawn at the corner of Dixon and Citation Drives.