By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- The Guardian Angels, an organization fairly well known on the Treasure Coast for their volunteer team of citizen crime-fighters, is expanding their territory.
Long recognized in 200 U.S. cities and 14 countries around the world, the Guardian Angels have been protecting the Treasure Coast since 2004 and are expanding their watchful eye farther into Martin County.
Thirty-four years ago it started with a man saddened by the crime-riddled deterioration of his beloved Bronx neighborhood. He decided to take matters into his own hands and his attempts at deterring crime became a nation-wide endeavor.
Closer to home in 1989, Steve Horton, now chapter leader for the Treasure Coast, saw an ad on television for the Guardian Angels and immediately knew it was what he was meant to do.
"I want to make a difference - it's just in my blood. This was an opportunity to do that in a phenomenal way," Mr. Horton said.
Commercial cleaner by day, Mr. Horton spends his spare time with a group of eight other individuals patrolling neighborhoods and intimidating would-be criminals in order to reduce crime.
"We're here to help the community," Mr. Horton said.
They do so with intensive training, by developing a pre-determined course of action, and working hand in hand with local law enforcement, who appreciate their contribution.
Their goal is to be present in communities prone to violence and crime to ease the minds of peaceful residents and encourage shady characters to stay away.
"We're a fantastic deterrent," Mr. Horton said. "We're masters of intimidation."
The humanitarian crime fighters capped with their signature red berets are not about violence or vigilantism, but about making a difference and being prepared. They strive to be the eyes and ears of local law enforcement and have never had to resort to using physical force during incidents on the Treasure Coast.
"What we do works," Mr. Horton said. "We stop a lot of crime before it happens."
Their main goal is prevention, knowing that their mere presence helps keep unlawful activity at bay, so they teach neighborhoods how to run watch programs and patrol questionable areas.
But they are also active participants, helping locate missing teens last fall and striving to find a man who attempted to abduct a woman in Stuart this summer.
Mr. Horton said the Guardian Angels are always open to new recruits, men and women, who want to make a difference in their neighborhoods and give local residents the peace of mind they deserve.
For more information, visit www.guardianangels.org or contact Steve Horton at (772) 224-0706.