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A worried neighborhood: Unsolved crimes are only the beginning

On Tuesday, our station set out into Idaho Falls to bring viewers a progress report on investigations into a couple of crimes that happened in the same neighborhood, just two weeks apart in March and April.

On March 30, two thieves broke into the liquor store on 1st Street, near Emerson, and stole some alcohol.

Then, on April 13, a man who said he had a bomb robbed the Wells Fargo Bank only a few blocks away.

Neither crime has been solved.

As our station looked into this seemingly routine story, more than a dozen neighbors said there is an issue much larger than a couple of so-far unsolved crimes.

The neighbors said they feel unsafe, and they don’t think anyone cares.

“It’s really, really scary,” said Reanna Schmall, who lives on 2nd and Emerson.

As a car drives by, Reanna hugs her son Luke, who spent the day learning how to ride a bike without training wheels under the watchful eye of his mother.

“You have to protect yourself, that’s the way it is,” said Schmall’s neighbor Casey Tapper.

The neighborhood has character. There’s a handful of Mexican restaurants, and a bar that’s full even at midday. Weeds grow from the sidewalks. But weeds in the sidewalk are the least of the worries in this neighborhood.

For Tapper, bullet holes in the family camper are just another fact of life on 1st and Emerson.

“We called the police and they told us to file a report online,” said Tapper. “That’s what we were told.”

Our station asked Tapper if police came to look for a bullet.

“No, nothing,” said Tapper.

The day began with Idaho Falls Police Sgt. Phil Grimes to follow up on the unsolved crimes from March and April.

“In old neighborhoods, generally your rent’s going be lower and a lot of times less educated and less wealthy people,” said Grimes.

That’s exactly the way many neighbors fear they’re looked at by law enforcement.

“I don’t think that it’s like worth their time sometimes,” said Schmall. That’s how I feel as a resident of this neighborhood.”

Schmall said she witnesses domestic disputes so violent and so often she doesn’t even let her son Luke ride his bike down the block.

“We should feel safe,” she said.

But she doesn’t.

“I have two babies,” she said. “What’s going to happen to them if they, if the cops say ‘Oh I don’t have time for you,’ and that’s really how it feels.”

After hearing from neighbors in the area, our station contacted Sgt. Grimes for comment. He said the IFPD is concerned about all citizens equally.

The IFPD said the March and April crimes remain unsolved.

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