Some of Oakmont's 4,500 residents say they feel under attack after a series of burglaries and other alarming instances of theft and aggression in their usually sedate Santa Rosa retirement community.
Burglars have hit at least eight homes since March, stealing jewelry and electronics, and in another instance made off with at least one catalytic converter from a parked car, according to police records.
With unease stalking the neighborhood, the question of whether to install surveillance cameras has spurred tensions among those who want added security and others who don't think cameras deter crime.
The issue brought a remarkable crowd to the Oakmont Village Association board's monthly meeting Tuesday, with more than 300 people filling two rooms at the Berger Center on Oakmont Drive.
"Neighborhood watches cannot do it all," said Pat Chapman of Pythian Road, whose home was burglarized in April. She said having her home broken into was "overwhelming and invasive" and demanded that board members do what they can to maintain property values.
"Potential residents will not move into a high crime area. Please approve the cameras," Chapman said.
Others among more than 20 speakers said they felt under siege and noted that residents of the 55-and-older community are more vulnerable than the general population.
"Fellow Oakmonters: we are under attack, we are sitting ducks," said Marcia Norris of Woodly Place.
Residents stood up and applauded comments that supported the use of cameras, an idea that dominated the meeting that stretched on for several hours.
At one point the crowd booed comments from skeptics of the proposal.