SPOKANE, Wash. - The owner of the Institute for Physical and Sports therapy said he's been seeing an increase in homeless encampments in the area behind his building this year, especially with the addition of the new Costco, which is his business's immediate neighbor.
"I'm not sure if they are being chased out of the city and moving here," said Charles Gallagher, "but they are kind of sprawled all the way along to Costco."
He says most mornings he has to go clean up after the transients who spent the night by his building, leaving behind all their waste.
"They leave clothes, food containers, feces," he said, "there's garbage starting to pile up in the woods, shopping carts and blankets.
With the increase in homeless in the area, he says property crime has spiked as well. He measures that by the amount of residents in the neighborhood across the street from him coming in looking for help.
"They come over and knock on the door and say 'do you guys have security video? I've had my home broken into, my garage broken into, I've gotten a few bikes stolen,'" he said.
He pointed the new security cameras and motion activated lights that he has now installed at his business, because of the transient concerns.
Mead and Wandermere community leaders have organized a public meeting to address the homeless problem. That meeting will be held Sept. 19th at 6:30 p.m. at the Covenant United Methodist Church.
A crime specialist from the Spokane County Sheriff's office will be there, and organizers are hoping firefighters from Fire District 9 will be as well, to address the fire risk of homeless camps.
"Its a problem that our whole community is dealing with, and we need to look at different ways to approach the problem," said Spokane County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Gregory. "We really need the public's help, we need everyone that sees something to say something."
He encourages folks that see suspicious people, homeless encampments or that have experienced property crime to call Crime Check (509-456-2233) and report it.
Even if there isn't an immediate response, the information is used for crime assessment and is used for response strategy.
He says the Sheriff's Office also has a crime specialist that can help concerned residents or businesses undergo an assessment of their home or business to combat crime.
Residents interested in setting up neighborhood watches can contact the Office's coordinator at 509-477-3055 or for additional help from the crime prevention deputy call 509-477-6044.
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