9OYS Crime Watch: How safe is Green Valley?

9OYS Crime Watch: How safe is Green Valley?

CREATED Jun 30, 2011

Reporter: Claire Doan

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) – How safe is your community?  With concerns over border violence and crime on city streets, KGUN9 News takes a look at eight southern Arizona communities to find out just how safe they are.  The next stop?  Green Valley.

Some call it an active adult community, others call it a retirement community.  Whatever name you prefer, Green Valley is a place with more than 30-thousand people, with a median age of 72.  And the crime there isn't exactly big-city crime.

"Two years ago, we had a lot of flat screen televisions and computers stolen.  That is nothing. This year, what is happening are yard ornaments, pots, things in the yard," said MaryLou Sampson, who has been a Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteer (SAV) for more than four years, logging two thousand hours so far.

Pima County Sheriff's Lt. Deanna Coultas said crime in Green Valley runs the gamut, but "the wonderful thing about Green Valley is it doesn't occur on the scale it does up in Tucson or other areas." 

To date, Green Valley saw seven aggravated assaults this year (on par with last year), no rapes, one robbery, and 36 burglaries.  Law enforcement officials say one of the biggest problems is fraud, with 94 cases this year.

"The things we see here are regular Kenyan lottery scams or internet scams that their grandchildren are being arrested," Coultas said.  "Sometimes the older population isn't quite as savvy with the computers and [don't] understand that they can be scammed that way just as easily as over the phone."

But overall, the city is safe because of one reason.

"The volunteers are what makes it safe and there's a great deal of pride and ownership here," said Jim DiGuacomo, Executive Director of the Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce.

Beyond neighborhood watches and homeowner associations, about 120 SAVs pitch in to make up the bulk of patrolling in Green Valley.  In fact, their hours last year were equivalent to that of having 22 additional sheriff's deputies.  The SAV program has been in operation for more than 27 years.

"There's a myth out there that people don't volunteer, but we do in Green Valley.  People appreciate us. And they see our cars patrolling the area," said Sampson.  "They see our cars patrolling the area and they know it's safe here."