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Suburban decay

Neighbors decry rise in crime, nuisance and otherwise

Some of the sprawling, manicured lawns and conservative two-story homes of Bethlehem's residential developments could serve well as stock images for suburban America. Such streets are not what you associate with words like vandalism, larceny, burglary or trespassing.

But residents of Haswell Farms and The Enclave at Glenmont, two upscale Bethlehem communities, say such crimes in their neighborhoods have made them feel anything but secure, with acts of juvenile troublemaking complemented by two recent burglaries and an arson.

Bethlehem police say incident report numbers are not unusually high for such an area, but they recently met with homeowners to discuss forming a neighborhood watch and policing their communities proactively.

The Spotlight spoke with those living in the area, as well as representatives of the police department, about the crime in this suburban neighborhood and what can be done to prevent it.

Teenage troubles

Haswell Farms will perhaps forever be remembered for the recent arrest of a homeowner who tackled a teen running from a game of ding dong ditch, a prank that involves ringing doorbells or knocking on doors to rouse a homeowner, then fleeing.

That story gained national attention, but residents say such high jinks are the rule, not the exception. They say instances of vandalism and car larcenies are becoming more prevalent, and several homeowners The Spotlight spoke with mentioned an incident last year where dozens of mailboxes throughout the development were destroyed.

Jill Sullivan, who lives on Harvest Ridge Road in the Enclave, said her car has been egged three times in the past six months. Such problems have arrived suddenly, she said.

"I've basically felt pretty safe here the last 10 years. We've never had any major problems," she said. "I think people are now starting to take a look at what's going on around here."

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