VAN ZANDT COUNTY (KYTX)- This was once the community center for this neighborhood of Rolling Oaks in Van Zandt county. This was actually the pool people played in and behind me a house where people played bingo but neighbors say this community has now turned into a place of crime and drugs.
Cindy Stowe has been living in this neighborhood filled with run-down houses, trash and unwelcome neighbors for 20 years.
"Biggest thing we've got around here is auto burglaries, theft, burglary and the drugs and we're trying to eradicate it all. Let these criminals know don't mess with Van Zandt county," Stowe said.
Stowe says robberies are common in Rolling Oaks. In fact, so common it caused this pizza place to close. Stowe says it is a vicious cycle of people stealing from neighbors to get money for drugs.
"They've broken into my house and robbed it, got quite a bit of stuff. They broke into my shed twice, burned it down the last time," Stowe said.
We drove around the neighborhood today with child advocate John Borgstedt. Borgstedt decided to try and help the people of Rolling Oaks when Borgstedt says Van Zandt Sheriff Lindsey Ray told him there was nothing he could do.
"I told him about the issues going on here and he said the thing is we don't have a lot of manpower and we don't have budget and Rolling Oaks is a lost cause," Borgstedt said.
Stowe says people had to start their own neighborhood watch program to keep themselves safe.
"We go out and patrol during the high crime times of the day which is daytime and let these criminals know we're going to turn them in," Stowe said.
Resident Johnny Mitchell says the neighborhood is heading in a better direction than it was but help is still needed.
"It would be nice if we could walk around the neighborhood without dealing with these crack heads but I don't know what you can do other than keep hounding the sheriff," Mitchell said.
Stowe says she wishes she didn't have to put herself in danger to patrol this area but will keep doing it as long as she's needed.
"At least we know we are doing something to help our community, to better it," Stowe said.
Neighbors say there is a lot to be done in this neighborhood like fixing these roads and some of these abandoned houses behind me but they hope by sharing the story people will come together to fix this struggling place.