Neighbors take proactive steps after armed burglars force lockdown in neighborhood

Posted at 6:34 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 18:34:04-05

Tina Militello put roots down in Sunset Park more than 20 years ago. Never has she been more rattled than a week and half ago.

"They were all in their black swat outfits. The police cars were at both ends of our neighborhood. And you know they had the guns and the really big dogs," said Militello

Tampa police said a trio of teenagers, one only 16 years old, broke into a 78-year-old man's home and then tried to get away with a large TV and other items.

Detectives said the teens also had guns so they brought in extra support.  

"I heard a helicopter going round and round," said  Nick Rinaldo's whose also lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades.

It's the first time he's faced this type of show down

"It was a little bit nerve wracking," said Rinaldo.

And eye opening. The burglars struck in the middle of the afternoon. Police locked the neighborhood down until they caught the culprits. The 16 year old they did not identify. But the other two arrested are Clinton Harmom and Ladarren Leversen.

This latest incident also spurred neighbors to action.

"We are always looking out for eachother," said Rinaldo.

Recently, neighbors said so called porch pirates have struck and that's not all .

"They get things stolen out of their backyard, the paddle boards and bikes," said Militello.

Neighbors pushed other neighbors to get an app called Nextdoor.

It provides all sorts of information from services and in this case namely safety.

"The one thing that app obviously does is help everyone in our community stay connected so we can let each other know if something is going on' said Rinaldo.

A slew of information is already circulating. Police are paying attention. They're looking into signing up with the service to keep better watch of neighborhoods.

"It sounds like a good thing," said Militello.

And while all agree the technology is great. The scary situation brought neighbors even closer.

"We were all definitely trying to put everyone on alert," said Rinaldo.