Team of crimestoppers fight violence in South Bend neighborhood
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The ladies of the Diamond Avenue Divas are not your typical neighbors. In fact, these crime stoppers have single-handedly driven crime right out of their South Bend neighborhood! "When I bought the house 27 years ago we had the highest homicide rate in South Bend in this neighborhood," says Diamond Avenue Diva Becky Kaiser.
Becky Kaiser has lived in her Diamond Avenue home for almost three decades. The neighborhood was riddled with drug houses, shootings and burglaries. However, the final straw did not come until three years ago, when she says a gang tried to move into the community.
"Neighbors had just decided, as a community, that no we cannot let this happen. If we let this happen, we might as well move out," says Kaiser.
So Becky and her neighbor Debbie Salle started patrolling their street. At night, they would stand on the corner of Diamond Avenue and California Street with their cell phones in hand, calling the police whenever something was not right. It was not long before the group grew into what is now known as the Diamond Avenue Divas.
"Somebody just said, 'Well, aren't we a bunch of divas.' Then someone said, 'Yeah, we are the Diamond Avenue Divas,' and from there on it just stuck."
Neighbors were not the only ones who took notice, the gang did too.
"They decided that they were going to scare us. So, they started walking by us, lifting there shirts, showing there guns and pointing their fingers at us like they were going to shoot us."
The gang's intimidation, and later the death threats, were no match for the Diamond Avenue Divas.
"I am a tree hugging, liberal democrat who is a member of the NRA," says Kaiser.
Now, crime along their street is a thing of the past.
"It is just about being neighbors that are vigilant, attentive to each other and just watching what is going on."
Thursday, the Diamond Divas say they caught a burglar red-handed after an attentive neighbor reported to them that someone was breaking into a nearby house. Minutes late police had the person in cuffs, and the Divas say it was just another day fighting crime on Diamond Avenue.