Habitat homeowner taking action after truck theft, car break-ins, hole in fence

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - One Habitat for Humanity homeowner in northwest Harris County is taking matters into her own hands after a rash of crimes in her neighborhood -- including the theft of her truck.

Several other vehicles were broken into and a hole was put in a fence -- all issues that Mary Burton is frustrated about.

"This right here leads to this street," Burton said, pointing to a gaping hole in a neighborhood fence.

Burton lives in the Hamill Crossing subdivision in northwest Harris County. She received the home in 2013 though Habitat for Humanity Northwest Harris County. Burton said she is tired of dealing with the issues that make her community feel less safe.

"Right here is a hole that we've had in our gate for about three years now, and neighbors had tried to fix it but it gets torn down," Burton said.

The hole is right near a road leading to private property, and very close to a local school, where she said many school children walk and use the hole as a shortcut to cut through the main roads. However, she said the hole in the fence is a gateway to the outside world that she said leaves residents uneasy, especially after last week.

"The police knocked on our door, and told us, 'Hey, your truck was just stolen. Here's a police report. Give us any details as you can,'" Burton said.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputies said they are actively investigating her stolen truck. However, Burton was not alone.

"They opened my car," said Oscar Espinoza, a neighbor just doors down from Burton.

Espinoza said his neighbor was also hit. 

"They opened the car and took money," Espinoza said.

Neighbors said there were at least three other homes that were hit by crime, all within a matter of days. 

"This house to the right of me, their car was vandalized," Burton said. "Luckily, she didn't have anything in it, but they still vandalized her car. Two houses to the right they were both neighbors side by side, they were both broken into."

According to Burton, the Hamill Crossing Homeowners Association told her that their hands were tied.

"(The HOA said it) hasn't been deeded any documents. Habitat says they have been deeded documents and that this is the HOA's problem," Burton said.

Burton, instead, decided to take matters into her own hands.

"This is what you should do -- if you see something say something," Burton said. "No one was notifying people of what's going on, so I personally typed up a notice, a newsletter."

So, she posted it on the community's mailbox, telling neighbors what happened and advising them to turn on their porch lights and to keep a vigilant eye. She said she is also pushing for surveillance and sidewalks.

Her goal, she said, is to build a community -- a neighborhood.

"Putting a security camera up, putting more signage out, putting a community board out so they know who to contact," Burton listed.

Burton, who is a mother of four, said she wants to give her children a better life.

"I'm a mom of four kids and my youngest one is 2, so it's very important that we get a handle on this," Burton said.

Habitat for Humanity Northwest Harris County told KPRC that once they build the community, then it is up to the neighbors and the HOA to overcome those types of issues.

KPRC contacted the Hamill Crossing Homeowners Association and has yet to hear back.

There is a community meeting scheduled in the near future, according to Burton.

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