Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is this the Old West?

Judy Pensyl deserved better.

Four times the east side Detroit resident's home has been invaded in recent months. Each time the burglars have taken her belongings, and eventually escalated activities to include vandalizing the home before they left.

My biggest fear after my own home was burglarized earlier this year was that the crook, or crooks, now know the layout and contents, and would eventually be back. I didn't want to take that chance, but the reality is as long as my family stayed in the home the likelihood of that happening was inevitable.

I received an e-mail about Ms. Pensyl that read, in part: "They robbed her the first time but then came back and threw food around the kitchen, overturned bookcases, painted gang graffiti on walls, etc. It's really shocking that such a well-intentioned and gentle soul should have this happen to her. What's even worse is that the police basically shrugged their shoulders and said there wasn't anything they could do!"

Ms. Pensyl is a slender and slight woman, a senior, would loves the city is active and outgoing and would never harm a soul. She is the type of person the city needs more of.

"She's been staying much of the time with some friends because she doesn't feel safe in her house, especially since it hasn't been properly secured. It appears that she's been targeted by someone in the neighborhood, although I can't imagine why."

She received some help the Guardian Angels, and apparently she did finally find at least one sympathetic person in the Eastern District police precinct. But finding that ear was not easy, as Ms. Pensyl had a tough time getting help initially.

"Their lack of response and apparent indifference is probably the most disturbing part of this whole thing. Sometimes I feel like we live in the Old West, where people are basically on their own to defend themselves. We deserve better than this!"

The wave of foreclosures that has decimated MorningSide, the neighborhood in which Ms. Pensyl lives and where I am active, is as much to blame as the overextended police department. With fewer residents to watch out for on another, crooks can ply their trade with few repercussions.

In MorningSide we're trying to do something about the foreclosure madness by taking inventory and attempting get banks or mortgage holders to be accountable for upkeep. The goal is to get people in position of ownership to take the reins, and ultimately, have more people engaged in what's going on in the blocks. It's a first step, but solving this Old West problem that is becoming a nightmare for too many.

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