In the wake of the recent home invasion and attack on a local citizen, the community has stepped forward to support the victim and help apprehend the perpetrators. Some residents are also re-thinking personal safety and protection issues.

In the wake of the recent home invasion and attack on a local citizen, the community has stepped forward to support the victim and help apprehend the perpetrators. Some residents are also re-thinking personal safety and protection issues.

Tips regarding the possible identity of the two suspects have been pouring in, and many have been donating money to increase the reward leading to an arrest, said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey.

Residents who have never been overly concerned about possible intruders are now thinking twice, locking their doors at night and during the day, and at least one home security company has seen an increase in inquires from Mount Shasta residents.

Some residents have been purchasing guns and learning to shoot them. Lopey said the Sheriff’s Department has seen an increase in the number of concealed weapons permits over the past couple weeks.

Lopey said he’s been most struck by “the outpouring of love, compassion and sympathy” from the community in the wake of the April 7 incident when two men entered a Mount Shasta home, committed a sex-related assault on the lone resident and took personal items before fleeing on foot.

As of Tuesday morning, the reward being offered had risen to $11,000.

“Secret Witness provided $5,000 of that,” said Siskiyou County Sheriff spokesperson Allison Giannini. The balance has been donated by private individuals from the community who wish to show their support and help in some way.

“The donations range in value from $100 to $2,500,” said Lopey. “We just keep getting calls from people who want to donate... It’s certainly reassuring the amount of great support we’ve had from the community, and the amount of people who have expressed concern for the family and pledged their support.”

Protecting ourselves
Statistically, Mount Shasta is “an extremely safe community,” said Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross; however, this incident has demonstrated that we’re not immune to crime.

Since 2007, the MSPD has responded to 13 sexual assault calls and 74 residential burglary calls, according to their records. This includes reports that may have turned out to be unfounded.

According to the most recent statistics from the California Department of Justice, there were a total of 183 violent crimes reported in Siskiyou County in 2009. This includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults.

This number has been steadily rising since 2002, when 94 violent crimes were reported in the county.

One Mount Shasta mother said since the attack she doesn’t feel safe in her own home and feels nervous when she can’t hear what’s happening in the next room.

Another Mount Shasta woman said she used to lock the door before bed, but now she locks both the door and the dead bolt throughout the day.

Though she thought about getting a gun, instead she got creative and put cans of hornet and wasp spray at strategic places in her home, because they can shoot up to 30 feet.

“I’m definitely being more observant of my surroundings,  checking people out, wondering if I have come across these evil men,” she said.

Cross said he supports any measure citizens are taking to protect themselves. However, if they are purchasing guns, he recommends they learn how to safely use them.

“Handling a weapon is a big responsibility... it’s a skill you’ve got to practice,” Cross said.

Lopey agreed. He recommends that people unfamiliar with firearms take a class to learn how to handle a gun before they purchase one.

“You can call the Sheriff’s Department for a list of certified instructors,” he said, adding that a class on concealed weapons instructed by one of his friends filled quickly last week, forcing him to open a second course.

Bonnie Koller of Hue & Cry Security in Anderson said this week alone, they’ll be making bids on security systems for six homes and one business in Mount Shasta.

“We always get a trickle of business from the Mt. Shasta area,” Koller said. “This has definitely been an increase.”

Koller added that the cost of home security systems varies depending on the property and the type of security desired.
Installation can be as low as $250. Monthly monitoring costs between $29.95 and $39.95, and insurance companies give discounts to homeowners with security systems which are typically somewhere between 10 and 20 percent.

Keeping an eye out
Until the suspects are apprehended, Lopey encourages everyone to be aware of their surroundings, keep their homes, vehicles and outbuilding secure and to report any suspicious activity immediately.

“The community is the eyes and ears of any police department,” Chief Cross said. “We have to take care of each other. If you see anything unusual or suspicious, don’t hesitate to call the police.”

“You don’t ever anticipate that something like this is going to happen,” Sheriff Lopey said. “Unfortunately, fear is one of the byproducts of this heinous crime. People are in fear because they realize that something like this can happen to anyone, anywhere.”