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Crime spills over into Villa Capri Apartments in Federal Way

Drug deals, robberies, vandalism, prostitution, graffiti, harassment and underage drinking are a nuisance along 25th Place South near the Villa Capri Apartments.

The crime originates primarily from duplexes located across the street from the apartments, 28621 25th Place S., apartment residents and management said. Crime spills over into the street and affects neighbors. The activity has fluctuated in recent years, but is again becoming noticeable.

"There are places that have routinely risen to our attention levels and that area is one of them," police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said. "It is an area we have always looked at for some crime concerns."

Carol Lee has lived at the apartments, owned by the Multi-Service Center, for three years. The apartments are cared for and available to low-income residents. Lee enjoys her space, and management at the apartments is responsive, she said. But as spring came to an end this year, Lee found herself upset and depressed knowing that summer would bring chaos next door.

The activity is present year-round, but more apparent in the summer, Lee said. The neighbors harass apartment residents as they drive to and from their home or check their mail, Lee said. Prostitution can be seen. Empty beer bottles and used condoms on the street are not a new thing, she said. Lee has heard gunshots.

"It's a scary neighborhood," Lee said. "I won't go out after dark."

On location

Villa Capri residents hope to bring a more regular police presence and possibly a block watch to the area in hopes of deterring crime. Statistics show crime is actually down in that location compared to last year, said Deputy Chief of Police Andy Hwang. Police wish to be attentive to citizens' concerns and are stepping up their presence and evaluating the neighborhood.

"Obviously, we're committed to working with the citizens out there," Hwang said.

Frustration comes in the fact that apartment residents have little control over the activities. Those engaging in disruptive happenings impact the quality of life and safety of nearby residents. However, they do not reside at the apartments, so management cannot evict them, property manager Chris Coffino said.

"I just want to enjoy my apartment in peace," Lee said. "It's really hard with this going on."

Legacy Management Group has spoken with the owners of the duplexes, Coffino said. One man, who owns several units, has not been responsive to Villa Capri's concerns. Another owner requested management to call him if they had problems. A partnership has not been established between the two parties.

Police involvement

Management and residents instead rely on police to deter crime. Calls placed to 911 are frequent, Lee said.

Police are familiar with the area, Coffino said. They have been responsive in recent weeks and have shown a genuine interest in helping to drive out the crime, he said.

"The police are our biggest ally right now," Coffino said.

This is not the first time police have made 25th Place South a priority. In late 2009, Villa Capri participated in crime prevention classes with the department, Schrock said. The department deployed several patrol units to the area.

Crime decreased and that summer was quieter, Lee said.

With activity again on the rise, police are responding. Earlier this month, after Lee spoke about her concerns at a city council meeting, an order was given for the department to again focus on 25th Place South, Schrock said. Units are trying to get a firsthand view of what problems are occurring now, she said.

"We're telling them we're aware of some stepped-up crime-related activity in the area," Schrock said.

Crime statistics

Statistics show crime has decreased in the reporting district near 25th Place South within the past year. But it still remains a concern.

2009:

Assault: 15

Burglary: 10

Harassment: 9

Malicious mischief: 21

Theft: 14

Traffic offense: 10

Warrant: 6

Domestic dispute: 34

Miscellaneous: 25

2010 (to date):

Assault: 10

Burglary: 7

Harassment: 2

Malicious mischief: 5

Theft: 6

Traffic offense: 5

Warrant: 10

Domestic dispute: 10

Miscellaneous: 18

Learn more

There are a few ways residents with concerns can help deter crime. Crime prevention courses, which teach awareness tips that can help determine whether crime is taking place in an area, are available. The classes may involve residents, property managers and nearby businesses. A police officer assigned to the area is involved, Schrock said. Residents may also request extra patrols in a location. This can be done at the police station, 33325 8th Ave. S., or online at www.cityoffederalway.com. Officers frequent the area and record and track the activity. A Lieutenant then determines whether an ongoing presence is needed or if the problem can be solved in another manner. To learn more about crime prevention, call Lindsey Tiroux at (253) 835-6707 or e-mail Lindsey.Tiroux@cityoffederalway.com.

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