SAN ANTONIO – As they patrol their Northwest Bexar County neighborhoods, a group of armed homeowners is putting criminals on notice.
A former army infantryman who lives in the Cobblestone neighborhood off Culebra Road started the Crime Deterrence Unit there in September. A number of car break-ins and a shooting near his home led to the group’s formation. He asked to go by only his first name, Bryan.
“You gotta be nuts to come to Cobblestone and think you’re going to steal stuff, honestly,” Bryan said.
Since September, he’s recruited 20-plus volunteers and expanded to 10 more neighborhoods and six businesses in the area.
“Everyone that serves in our group is a member of one of these neighborhoods,” said a volunteer who gave only his first name, Andy, “so we live here. It’s not like we just decided this is a high-crime area, we need to go serve here.”
They suit up in body armor, carry rifles and communicate through radios. Their vehicles are marked with CDU signage. Bryan said the volunteers don’t usually wear masks.
On a recent Sunday morning, about 10 men in three vehicles patrolled a handful of neighborhoods. Four guys walked on or near the sidewalk, someone in a car followed behind and a man in a pickup truck drove ahead of them as the scout unit.
The other vehicle stopped by certain homes that have filled out paperwork with the group allowing volunteers to act as the homeowner, Bryan said.
A former military police officer who declined to provide his name said some people are surprised and shocked.
“We still get that reaction – who are these guys, and what are they doing here?” he said.
Members of the Crime Deterrence Unit say they’re protecting their properties and their neighbors from becoming victims.