Residents in a Central Florida city said they’re taking matters into their own hands to keep the streets safe following several armed robberies and attempted robberies.
Last week, police began to step up patrols in Sanford’s historic district, but now neighbors are taking turns patrolling certain spots.
The latest robbery happened Saturday, when a pastor was robbed outside his church.
The robbery at the Iglesia Vida Nueva church was caught on surveillance video.
The video shows a man sitting on the steps of the church and then whipping out a gun.
The video ends there, but police said the robber then pistol-whipped the pastor and stole his wallet and cellphone.
“It gets frustrating because you want people to be safe. You want people to feel safe walking out of their church,” resident John DiDonna said.
A group of five residents along with 11 others are working around the clock to do what they can to help police catch the robber.
Investigators don’t have a final number of robberies and attempted robberies, but residents have at least six marked on a cap from the last two weeks.
In most of the cases, the robber has taken cellphones and wallets.
“We take logs. Communicate different streets we go down. We talk to Sanford police. We talk to each other,” resident Daniel Lewis said.
The group reported possible sightings of the robber and suspicious activity to police on Monday.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com