Vacant West Central neighborhood a magnet for crime - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Vacant West Central neighborhood a magnet for crime

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

A block of homes in the West Central neighborhood has been vacant for months.   Developer, Sarff Investments LLC bought the property to put in a car wash. 

Some of the homes are being moved, but the majority are sitting empty since the people who lived in them had to be out by the end of last year.  Now some neighbors who live nearby say the area has become a magnet for criminals. 

"My truck has been burglarized twice," says Pete Cowin.  "Three times I have caught someone coming out of that house at 4:30 in the morning."

Cowin lives right around the corner from the vacant homes and says it's been a nuisance having them sit empty for so long. 

"People were taking cable and wire and scraping the copper inside," says Keith Kelley.  Kelley also lives in West Central and has been very active in the restoration efforts.  He says cutting down on crime is part of the reason he's so passionate about the project. 

"Every vacant lot that we can fill with a home and put a family into becomes one less space in the neighborhood that collects trash or has people shooting up needles," says Kelley.    

To try and cut down on criminal activity the developer put a fence around the property and hired security to patrol.  They're also encouraging neighbors to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity.    

"I'll be glad for it to be done because I'm tired of my stuff getting stolen and broken into," says Cowin. 

One of the homes has already been moved and at least five more will be moved next month to other vacant lots in West Central.  Sarff Investments hopes to have the construction on the car wash completed by winter. 

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