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Oakland Neighborhood Uses Crowdfunding To Pay For Private Guards

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Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland. (CBS)

Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Fed up with rising crime, residents of Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood have turned to online donations to pay for private security guards.

The push for guards began after several casual carpoolers were robbed at gunpoint on the morning of September 23rd.

Rockridge resident Amy Lemley is a neighbor of one of the victims. “There’s been a more serious uptick and I feel like a more brazen nature,” Lemley said.

Over the past six months, there have been 28 robberies, 32 burglaries and eight assaults in this enclave. “Let’s use modern technology to try to bring the community together,” Lemley said.

Lemley and some of her neighbors wanted private security guards to patrol their streets. To raise money, they launched a page on Crowdtilt.com, urging people to contribute to the cause.

“It’s been about a week and we’ve raised around $20,000;” Lemley said. In just a few days, another group of Rockridge residents raised more than $13,000 on Crowdtilt, while a third group raised more than $1,000.

Does private security even work? One swath of the Oakmore neighborhood in Oakland hasn’t seen a home burglary for seven months, since hiring a private guard.

Not everyone is convinced. “What would be nice is if the city council would figure out a way for the police department to fill in the holes,” said Alex Circiello, a lifelong Rockridge resident.

Circiello said he worries that bringing in private guards to each neighborhood will have an isolating effect. “We have our own security forces and the next block over has their own security forces and we’re no longer a functioning city that has a police department,” he said.

Lemley said the guards are on a trial run. $24,000 would buy six months of 12-hour patrols, five days a week.

“If this is something people want, we can come together and do it. And at the same time if it’s not, then it can stop,” she said.

The neighbors are considering donating any additional funds they collect to neighborhoods that cannot afford private security.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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