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Outside, traffic jammed and jet engines roared. 

Inside, instrumental Christmas music played as neighbors, clad in festive sweaters, shared conversation about their homes.

The Glyn Terrace and Oak Ridge Estates neighborhood alliance meets the first of the month at the Collins Park Community Center, and on Monday the group celebrated the holidays with a potluck and gift exchange.

Racially diverse and mostly elderly, the group shared their latest concerns with each other: an increase in attempted break-ins and the volume of children hiding in their yards from the North Charleston police.

The neighbors suspected that the holidays — homes with presents hiding under trees — may increase break-ins. 

Since their November meeting, the group noted several seasonal attempts at theft, including a "window scam" in which criminals pose as salesmen, walking door to door with no name tag and no parked car. 

The neighbors have an agreement that "when we see something, we say something." They have a system in which they call each other whenever a strange car is parked on the street. When a stranger knocks on the door unannounced, they call the North Charleston police's non-emergency line.

The alliance started as a neighborhood watch about 20 years ago, retired resident Inez Henderson said.

About a year ago shootings persisted in the neighborhoods. That's why Tammy Pilch and her husband joined the alliance. 

Pilch, 41, is one of the group's younger members and is now the alliance's secretary. She and her husband do not have children, but many younger families are moving into the Glyn Terrace neighborhood. 

The neighborhoods, established in the 1950s, are off Dorchester Road and tucked between major employers Boeing, the Charleston International Airport and Tanger Outlets. In addition to crime, traffic and skyrocketing real estate values is a mounting concern for the neighbors. 

Today the old neighborhood watch signs have faded. In the new year, the alliance hopes to replace the signs with a reminder to criminals: "We have our eyes out."

Before filling their plates with chicken salad and meatballs, the group bemoaned their relationship with their least favorite neighbor: Boeing. 

"The noise," said Linda Lucas, the group's vice president, "it's all night long." 

The group nodded in agreement.

William Herrod has lived in Glyn Terrace since 1984. His property on Marilyn Drive backs up to Boeing. The company still has not made good on their promise to create a park-like border with trees and flowers, he said. 

"It's highway grass," Herrod said. "And a couple of shrubs."

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Reach Hannah Alani at 843-937-5428. Follow her on Twitter @HannahAlani.

Hannah Alani is a reporter at The Post and Courier covering race, immigration and rural life across the Palmetto State. Before graduating from Indiana University and moving to Charleston in 2017, her byline appeared in The New York Times.

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