Guardian Angels Volunteers Enforce Law Amid Budget Cuts, Other Gaps

02/09/2011 09:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As both temperatures and budgets across the country plummet, Guardian Angels volunteers have become a saving grace for the needy and crime stoppers for the lawless.

The citizen crime patrol group stopped a thief who was allegedly trying to steal a camera from two students on the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reports. Three Guardian Angels detained the two robbery suspects before police arrived to make an arrest.

In Indianapolis, besides serving as crime watchers, Guardian Angels also give out blankets, hats and gloves to homeless people as the temperatures drop, Indianapolis's News 6 reports.

The red-beret-wearing volunteers gave CPR to a man who suffered from a drug overdose in a public bathroom in New Jersey. It's here -- with police cuts across the state -- that the Guardian Angels are out in full force. In places such as Camden, N.J. -- the second most dangerous city in the country -- a group of the red-beret-wearing volunteers recently had their tires slashed after a six-hour shift, Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, tells Reuters.

"It's the Fallujah of the United States," said Sliwa, a reference to the Iraqi city where U.S. soldiers battled insurgents. "And because no one seems to care, we've basically written off Camden. But that's not the American spirit."

The group's reputation and work have come into question in the past because of failures to do background checks for a criminal record, listed as a requirement on the Angels website. But many feel indebted to the volunteers, according to Reuters.

"In Camden, for every resident who offered a sneer or an aggressive gesture, there were three more who expressed gratitude."