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Anthem’s criminal activity discussed

Staff Report~ 5/21/2014

ANTHEM – To stay safe, local residents need to work together. That was the recurring theme of the May 15 Anthem community safety meeting sponsored by the Anthem Neighborhood Watch.

The meeting focused on transient criminal activity. Featured speak Joan Campbell, who spent 21 years as a Glendale police officer and now works for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, noted that this type of crime is common in parking lots, stores, hospitals, and sometimes homes.

Types of transient criminal activity include sweetheart swindles (a criminal masquerading as a romantic partner in order to steal), false damage or claims, requests for financial assistance, or offers of work for a low price.

Transient criminals’ success with their crimes depends on their victims being unaware of their ploys.

“We need everyone’s help to stop this,” said Campbell. “Our best tool is education.”

A commenter at the meeting said he had seen panhandlers in Anthem in the last six months and asked how they could be made to go away. Campbell noted that panhandling on public property is considered free speech. On private property, it can be considered trespassing if the owner of the property does not want panhandlers there.

City of Phoenix Police Lieutenant Ben Moore said that no one should feel pressured into giving panhandlers aid.

“They can get all the services they need at the downtown shelter,” he said. “There are resources we can refer them to. Call the non-emergency police line ((602) 262-6151) for people in need.”

Black Mountain Precinct Commander Joe Klima, also from City of Phoenix Police, asked residents to let their legislators know if they have issues with panhandlers. Legislation is being considered that would change the legalities of panhandling.

“We always want to provide the people an opportunity for services,” said Klima.
“As a community, you’ve got to decide where you draw the line so that this panhandling does not affect the quality of life for others.”

Another issue brought up at the meeting was that both Phoenix Police and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department (not present at the meeting) frequently have long response times to calls. Klima said they are working to improve this and noted that MCSO and Phoenix Police will answer each other’s emergency calls as “mutual aid,” depending on emergency and proximity.

More community safety meetings are planned. For more information, contact the Anthem Neighborhood Watch at