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Residents concerned about neighborhood crime

Residents of the Halbert Heights neighborhood, where a man wasmugged at gunpoint last weekend called the crime “shocking” andsaid violence in their area was rare.

A man walking his dog was accosted at gunpoint by a masked mandemanding money on Dianne Street. He was threatened several times,but the gunman left when the man showed him his empty wallet.

Nearly an hour later, a pizza delivery man had just completed adelivery on Chickasaw Street and was returning to his vehicle whenhe was approached by two masked men, one of them armed with ahandgun. He gave them his cash and they left.

Police are investigating the armed robberies. They have notdetermined if the two are linked.

Matt Springfield, a Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy who lives onAvenue B a block from the scene of the Dianne Street robbery, saidcrime occurring anywhere no longer surprises him.

“Crime has no borders,” he said. “What was shattered here lastweekend was the perception of safety. This has always been a safeneighborhood. That type of crime just doesn’t happen here, so whenit does it gets people stirred up.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said the Halbert Heightsarea has always had a relatively low rate of crime.

“That’s a quiet neighborhood,” he said. “Normally we only gettraffic violations there.”

Crime does occur there, however, Springfield said.

“I’ve actually had someone steal something out of the patrol carwhen it was sitting in the yard, but violent crime here is seldom aconcern,” he said. “And that’s an odd thing to happen anywhere inBrookhaven.”

Louise Kent, of Noble Drive, said she was “shocked” when sheheard of the attack.

“I wish they would find who did it,” she said. “It’s terriblewhen things like that happen in your neighborhood.”

Helen Steward, of Noble Drive, agreed, saying it was firstviolent crime she was aware of in the neighborhood.

“We built this house 20 years ago when there weren’t many housesout here,” she said. “We’ve never had one unpleasant experience -never an incident.”

Kent and Steward said they would take more protective measuresbut didn’t know what else to do. They already adhere to what wouldbe considered normal security practices, such as keeping theirwindows and doors locked.

“We don’t know of anything else to do (other) than what we’redoing,” Kent said.

In addition, Steward said any other measures would have to havea minimal impact on her lifestyle.

“I’m a friendly person. I don’t understand people like that,”she said.

Springfield said that although the crime was unusual, he didn’texpect it to change the way residents view the neighborhood.

“I don’t think it’s really changed our way of living,” he said.”And I don’t think it should.”