A grandmother in Milwaukie, Ore., is organizing a “Glock Block,” a pistol-packing group of neighbors that she said she hopes will help deter crime in her community.
Coy Tolonen, 65, said the idea came to her last Thursday after she tried and failed to chase down a thief who ran away with her beloved bronze yard statue.
Later that evening, the grandmother of three said she realized a door to her home had been jimmied open, possibly by the same man she said stole her statue.
“It just made my blood run cold because our grandkids are playing here a lot, and one of them could have been snatched just as easily as the statue,” she told ABCNews.com.
“These guys need to know if you’re going to pick on a little old lady, then lots of the ladies I know are packing [guns]. They’re sweet ladies but if it’s their life, I’m sorry you’re going to lose yours,” Tolonen said.
The breast cancer survivor said she wasn’t going to let anything jeopardize the safety of her or her family in their home, and so the “Glock Block” idea was born.
Tolonen began printing flyers for her neighbors to hang in their windows, with a picture of a gun and the warning: “This is a Glock Block. We don’t call 911.” She said so far more than a dozen neighbors have shown interest.
“We don’t want people to feel bad if they don’t want to post one. We respect their rights too,” Tolonen said. ”I just want criminals to think twice. I want my grandkids to be able to play in the yard. It’s time that we step up.”
Tolonen, who said many of her friends have guns, is in the process of getting her concealed carry permit and said she’s a staunch advocate for firearms safety among her group.
While Tolonen said her unincorporated town of 20,000 has a community group that has addressed crime in the past, she’s hoping to hold regular meetings with the people in her neighborhood, possibly even at the firing range.
“It’s time for us to get together,” she said.
A spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, which serves Milwaukie, said that while it’s within the rights of Tolonen and her neighbors to start the “Glock Block,” guns can become dangerous when they are in the hands of someone without enough training and experience.
“What we’re really talking about here is property crime ,” Sgt. Robert Wurpes told ABCNews.com. “We don’t think firearms are the answer to this problem. However, we do understand gun ownership is a right.”
Wurpes said he and his fellow officers have been on plenty of calls in property crime cases and many times have realized victims hadn’t been communicating with their neighbors or hadn’t even met them.
“Get to know your neighbors,” Wurpes said.
“We understand that it’s frustrating when people get things stolen or are victims of crimes,” he said. “Our concerns come into play when guns are involved because they’re dangerous. ”