TURLOCK — Neighbors of Donnelly Park in Turlock say the area has gotten worse over the last few years.
Police are investigating a number of arsons, all involving Cypress trees this past week. They are asking neighbors to check their home surveillance systems to see if any people or vehicles can be seen around the time of the fires.
“It’s a heightened alert when we have multiple fires going simultaneously in the same area,” Turlock Fire Department Captain Kevin Tidwell said.
Along with the five recent fires, neighbors say drug deals in the park are fairly common. There have been several robberies, including one that turned fatal, a disturbing case of animal abuse and reports of cars doing donuts in the park late at night.
“We would go walk outside the park at around 6 when it started getting dark. So we stopped doing that after we heard they were stealing from people and stuff,” neighbor Edson Garcia said. “We can’t even go out here anymore because it is dangerous.”
Turlock Police say Donnelly Park is one of the busiest parks in the city, and have added nearly 100 extra patrols since Jan. 1 to ensure it continues to be a safe place for families. They added that outside of the deadly robbery in December, Donnelly Park isn’t a troubled location.
Meanwhile, Garcia says he and his family will stay vigilant.
“If we see something suspicious, we keep an eye out for it,” Garcia said. “You can’t ignore it.”