16-year-old leads charge to make Broad Ripple neighborhood safer

Matthew Williford, 16, was tired of seeing his friends and neighbors dealing with criminals.

BROAD RIPPLE, Ind. – A teenager is taking action to help make his streets safer. Matthew Williford, 16, was tired of seeing his friends and neighbors dealing with criminals.

Williford is the creator of the Primrose Village Northdale Neighborhood Watch group.

“We should actively be a crime watch and not just sit back and watch it happen,” Williford said.

In the past two weeks, there have been more than 70 reports of vandalism, robberies, thefts, car break-ins, and even some stolen cars within two miles of his home

“I think the general mindset of the neighborhood was not ‘if my car gets broken into’ but ‘when’, and that’s just really disappointing that it’s turned that way with all this recent crime. We really wanted to change that mindset,” Williford said.

About a month and a half ago, Williford started a neighborhood watch group. He coordinates daily shifts throughout the day and night hours for volunteers to patrol the area in marked cars.

“Our strategy is to patrol the streets at hot times of crime. We look at cars, we look at driveways, we look at houses,” explains Williford.

The group has called police a handful of times to report suspicious behavior.

“We’re going to call it in if it seems off, and if it happens to be nothing then that’s ok. We’ll get an officer in the area and maybe he scared off someone else,” explains Williford.

So far, the group hasn’t caught a thief in the act, but Williford wants criminals to know they’re on the lookout.

“We know which cars belong in this neighborhood, and we can tell if they live here,” Williford said.

IMPD tells FOX59 the North District has stepped up patrols, and on the weekends bike patrols are also targeting the area. Officers are reminding citizens if you happened to see suspicious activity, don’t intervene, call police and let them handle it.