PLEASANT PLAINS, AR (KAIT) - Pleasant Plains residents said their city has changed.
Gone are the days of unlocked doors and open windows. Police said residents of the small city are taking advantage of each other. Thefts are at an all-time high.
However, a new organization wants to restore Pleasant Plains to the friendly nature its name implies.
"A lot of people have become concerned," Neighborhood Watch coordinator Kenneth Burns said. "We pitched the idea to the city council about starting a Neighborhood Watch program. They were for it."
That was three months ago. Burns said the organization now has 50 patrollers.
"That means there's 50 extra eyes in the community that are looking for things out of the ordinary who weren't looking before," Burns said.
These keen eyes drive around Independence and White counties, day and night, looking for suspicious activity. If they find it, they immediately contact the county sheriff departments.
"With us being a small community, we know who should be here and who shouldn't," Burns said.
"That's what it takes to make our community safer is getting people involved in our communities and doing stuff like this," said Lt. Brent Everett with the Independence County Sheriff's Department. "People who live here know better than anyone else what's out of place with their friends and neighbors."
Lt. Everett said that local knowledge has already made a huge impact. The neighborhood watch program assisted the Independence County Sheriff's department with three major drug arrests.
"Without their help, we would not have solved those nearly as quickly," Everett said.
Neighborhood Watch is also helping the counties cut down on the surge in summer thefts.
"If you're going out of town, you notify one of the block captains in your area and we will increase patrol around those homes," Burns said.
Neighborhood Watch uses social media and several smart phone apps to fight crime.
One app, Next Door, allows patrollers to post pictures, vehicle descriptions and more of suspicious activity. Anyone in the area with the app can see this information.
Burns said many residents have personal police scanners. These apps are a way to keep criminals from being able to hear if police are on their way.
"If there's a crime being committed in a neighborhood, once a crime is posted, it can automatically contact the sheriff's department," Burns said.