'Locked and loaded' on Franquero Lane

Residents arm themselves in face of increased crime

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson

COTTONWOOD - Recent car and home burglaries and vandalism in the green belt area of Franquero Lane have triggered a new private warning sign that burglars need to be aware that neighbors are armed and loaded.

Steve Anderson, a Franquero Lane resident of 35 years, placed the first sign depicting a handgun with a warning stating: "This neighborhood is armed. Thieves and trespassers beware."

"For several years the area has periodically been targeted by crooks who steal and break into vehicles, steal tools, household items, collectibles, smash doors and windows, and occasionally have strange people threaten individuals in their own yards. Neighbors are reacting after break-ins of multiple cars last Thursday by locking and loading," Anderson stated in a news release.

He continued: "In a recent unofficial survey, neighbors were found to have armed themselves to protect their lives and property. The police do an OK job of making a presence, now, but their driving around does not seems stop the intrusions, nor fears ... I do not know of one incident of a crook that was caught by police. However, under the local neighborhood watch program several bad guys have been caught and apprehended."

Anderson's survey indicated that many have completed firearms training and have concealed weapons permits. Recent legislation does not require them to be "card carriers and they maintain loaded firearms in their homes."

Anderson cited numerous smash-and grab type burglaries from cars in the neighborhood.

"My son had Christmas presents locked in his truck. The thief did not break the window, but actually took the window out and stole all the presents. A handgun in the truck was also stolen. It was later recovered by Mesa Police. It had been used in a drive-by shooting there.

"I have lived in this community for 35 years and what attracted me to Cottonwood from East Los Angeles is that it was a quiet peaceful area. But, it is now frustrating to have to lock your car. And then when the window is smashed, it is expensive to replace it."

In fact, the warning sign now cemented in place is not the only sign. The first was actually stolen as well.

Anderson says he distributed a flyer to neighbors. Many have applauded the move. One asked him to make a similar sign for his house.

"I don't have one neighbor that doesn't keep a loaded gun in his home," said Anderson.

He is well aware of the law when it comes to deadly force. "I am not going to shoot a thief stealing my TV, but if he pulls a gun and is endangering our lives, I would."

COTTONWOOD - On Friday, Sept. 24, Yavapai Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to several vehicle burglaries in Cottonwood. The vehicles involved were on adjoining streets, 2200 and 2400 block of E. Franquero Lane, 800 block of Green River Road, and 1000 block of N. Rio Verde East

Investigators believe burglaries occurred between 2:30 and 6:30 a.m. that morning. All vehicles were unlocked. Suspects also entered several vehicles parked on the same property.

Items included a "Taylor Made RX7" custom set of golf clubs with steel shafts and a "Ping" brand putter. All the clubs were in a golf bag described as orange, red and black with white lettering. The set of clubs is valued around $2,700, plus the victim's checkbooks which was also stolen.

Items taken from other area victims' vehicles included a white "I-Pod Nano," a "Garmin" GPS unit, loose change, cash and sunglasses. A set of fly fishing rods stolen from one of the vehicles was recovered in a nearby ditch.

The Sheriff's Office reminds vehicle owners that there are suspects who search neighborhoods exclusively for unlocked vehicles. These crimes of opportunity can be prevented by simply locking your car.

YCSO encourages neighbors to stay alert during the late evening and early morning hours when the majority of the residential vehicle burglaries occur. Be aware of unusual noises, vehicles driving slowly, dogs barking and vehicle alarms and horns which may alert to a burglary. Remove all valuables from your vehicle while unattended.

YCSO is anyone with information about suspects or whereabouts of the stolen property to call 928-771-3260 or Yavapai Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232.

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