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ATLANTA -- Hattie Bryant says she's had to fight to stay safe in every neighborhood she's lived.

"I didn't think I'd have to do it here," she said. "This is a senior citizen place."

Tell that to the crooks who try to steal cars at Lakewood Christian Manor in southwest Atlanta. Police reports list damaged doors and locks, and busted ignitions -- and that's if the car hasn't been stolen.

"It's a very hurtful feeling when you come out to do your grocery shopping and your vehicle is gone," Bryant said.

She said most residents are afraid to speak up, or figure no one will listen to them because of their ages. But she loves Lakewood too much to stay silent.

"The trees are just beautiful," she said. "I don't believe in having a thief take away my freedom."

Bryant said crooks jump the fence on the back side of the property when it's dark. She agrees with the victim in a recent police report, affirming the overnight security guard "just sits at the front desk."

"Just make your presence known outside the building," Bryant said.

She "raised her voice" and the apartment complex responded by changing security companies. 11Alive News stayed up one night to watch. The new guard did walk the property once an hour.

Atlanta Police also stepped up patrols through the neighborhood, but lighting remained a sore spot. Georgia Power admitted it's been a problem, saying a representative visited the property six times. So instead of trying to repair the lights, the company agreed to replace them.

Bryant watched the work with the hope that her experience will empower others to raise their voices.

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