Fighting neighborhood blight - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: George Metaxas, 5/31/04, 5:04 p.m.

Fighting neighborhood blight

In a Target Five investigation you saw how many Memphis neighborhoods are fighting a losing battle against blight. But there's a new twist. We found one man fighting an up hill battle to do the right thing.

There's a sigh of frustration from Reggie Woods as he crawls through a kicked-in door to the home he inherited from his aunt. "I hate to see it in the shape that it's in." Vacant, trashed by trespassers, condemned by the city and now it's on a list to be torn down. "It has a lot of potential, it's part of the family and I would like to keep it." But so far getting the house back into shape has been an uphill battle. Vandals repeatedly break in. In the kitchen, they stole the cabinets and the counter-tops. The sink is gone along with all the hardware. The hot water heater is gone. They even ripped the wiring out of the wall, including wires that went to a now neutralized security system. "It seems like if the neighborhood wants it to be better, someone should put forth the effort when they see things going on, start calling the police." According to records, no one called Memphis police to report any break-ins at the Klondyke area home within the last month. But, it's hard for Woods to believe no one saw whoever walked out of the house with a toilet. The block's former president says most of her neighbors won't report the crime they see out of fear. Fannie Scruggs, Former Alma St. Block Pres. said, "They think somebody will get back at them, that's what they think." They are fears Memphis Police Director James Bolden says are unfounded, since tips to police remain anonymous. But there is another concern. Bolden said, "Unfortunately burglary isn't a high priority crime as far as the prosecution sometimes. You know sometimes people are picked up for burglary and may be out on probation in a very short period time." Then, they're back on the street able to commit the same crimes. But despite the latest string of crimes against his home, Woods says he's going to give fixing it up one more shot. "It's worth it too me." He's considering moving in until the rehab work is done.

To avoid becoming a target for burglars when renovating a home, police recommend installing security doors first and moving in fixtures and appliances last.

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