New Yorkers on a block in Lower Manhattan pooled their money to hire two private security guards last month amid a rise in crime throughout the Big Apple.
Business owners and residents on W 4th Street between McDougall and Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village paid $18,000 for two armed guards to patrol the area in the month of August, Fox 5 News reports.
"When our security guards were present, it did seem much safer and there was a sense of calm when they were walking the street," Brian Maloney told the local news outlet. "But the moment they went off duty, the deluge of lawlessness returned, instantly."
Overall crime is up 50% in Lower Manhattan so far this year, with murders jumping 35%, robberies surging 43%, and grand larceny going up 63%, according to NYPD data.
A 28-year-old man was stabbed to death at the intersection of West 4 Street and 6 Avenue in Greenwich Village after an altercation with four suspects in May.
Last month, 34-year-old Rodney Perry allegedly randomly punched a 12-year-old girl and shoved two other pre-teens in Greenwich Village.
The Greenwich Village residents hired the guards as a pilot program, which ended at the beginning of September.
Elias Tsikis, the owner of Washington Square Diner, told Fox 5 News that crime is "the worst it's been in 21 years."
Neighborhoods in other big cities around the United States have also turned to private security in recent months and years as crime has surged since the "defund the police" movement prompted several cities to slash or divert funding for public safety.
Residents of Trousdale Estate in Beverly Hills hired private security just a week before Jacqueline Avant, wife of music executive Clarence Avant, was fatally shot in her nearby home.
Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood is pushing to secede from the city and form its own independent police force.