TYLER-(KYTX) More than 20 years ago, Billy Dean's home was burglarized. Not once, but twice.
"They took a lot of property from us and about two months later the same thing happened again,"
In 1991 Dean moved back to Tyler, determined not to fear crime but to fight it. The 80 year old native Texan is the Neighborhood Watch Block Captain for Top Hill Drive.
"I just thought it was the thing to do, someone's got to step up."
He communicates with neighbors and community officers to make sure that what happened to him, all those years ago, doesn't happen again. To him, or anyone else.
But not all seniors are as strong as Dean.
Dr. Stephen Westmoreland is a psychologist who counsels trauma victims. He says it's not uncommon for seniors' to be afraid to leave their home after they've been a victim of a crime.
"It takes them out of a kind of illusion that it always happens to someone else," Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland believes communication is the key.
"Sometimes just talking about their fear will release some of the anxiety," he said.
In 2010, Tyler saw a 2% increase in violent crimes. Tyler Police Officer Don Martin says the modest increase is largely due to the community.
"We really reinforce the public to get involved in helping us fight crime. And that means neighbors watching neighbors, people reporting things when they see things, suspicious activity." Martin said.
Dean attributes his ability to lead a normal life to programs like Neighborhood Watch and he says, If he can do it, anyone can.
"Life goes on. Hey, I'm 80 and I'm having fun," he said.