Residents of this affluent suburb are using rarely used alarms and leaving lights burning bright after two recent reports of groping intruders who slipped easily into homes and preyed on young girls.
Police say a 5-year-old girl was fondled early this week by a man who came in through an unlocked basement door in a 47-home subdivision north of Atlanta. Two weeks earlier, a similar intruder was chased away from a 10-year-old girl's bedroom.
On Wednesday, officers found themselves responding to several calls tripped by edgy residents unfamiliar with their alarm systems. Police have suspended an ordinance that charges residents up to $50 per call for such mistakes.
In a community where home prices start at $250,000 and unlocked back doors had been commonplace, residents find themselves checking their locks twice.
Jhaleri Tate, 34, said her family has spent $700 on window treatments and new locks.
"Everyone's light bill is going to be a lot higher as we all leave our porch and back-door lights on," she said. "We don't want this guy hiding in the dark."
The 5-year-old girl began crying as she was fondled in her bed, waking her mother, who saw someone escape through an unlocked door.
On Nov. 1, an intruder woke up the 10-year-old girl by hugging her and pulling at her pajamas. He, too, entered and escaped through an unlocked door.
Fulton County Police Lt. David Childs said investigators have not determined whether one man is responsible for both intrusions. The attacker or attackers have shown a familiarity with the neighborhood, police said.
Carrington Homeowners Association president Jean Owens placed calls to several security companies this week, asking them to refrain from the door-to-door soliciting, which started when news of the intrusions broke.
"I can understand and even appreciate what they're doing," Owens said. But "people are already high-strung over this and don't need strangers wandering through the community."
Owens said plans for a neighborhood watch program have been accelerated, with the first meeting planned for tonight. She has also distributed a letter to her neighbors, asking them to stay vigilant.
The young mother said that even with a 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter to think about, she had often been lax about security.
"I think we got lulled into a false sense of complacency," she said. "And then this--this is a parent's worst fear, other than losing their child."
CAPTION: A police officer responds to an alarm call at a subdivision near Alpharetta, Ga. Two groping intrusions have been reported in the community this month.