Prevent crime in your neighborhood and want to make a few new friends and add crime fighting to your dream superhero status?
Fortunately, when it comes to preventing crime and increasing the quality of life in your neighborhood, there are easy steps you can take to make a big impact. With many law enforcement agencies cutting costs or working harder, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to work together and be alert. (No tights are required, and a cape is optional.)
From preventing vandalism, break-ins, auto theft or mailbox robberies, working with other home and business owners can go a long way in improving your area and keeping it safe. What better time than summer to gather neighbors and make plans?
Beyond arming your home’s security system, keeping your doors locked, and being aware of suspicious activities in your area, there are simple actions you can take to prevent crime:
- Help keep your neighborhood clean and orderly
- Meet and stay connected to local law enforcement
- Raise awareness and increase communications with your neighbors
- If your home alarm system includes video cameras, use them to monitor suspicious activity, such as people going door-to-door, looking for easy entry
- Homeowners who use an alarm monitoring company should prominently display their security yard signs, which are proven deterrents to crime
Five easy steps for starting a Neighborhood Watch Program
For an organized effort, consider a Neighborhood Watch Program. With the help of National Neighborhood Watch or the National Sheriff’s Association and their many online resources, starting a Watch program can be as easy as these five steps:
- Recruit and organize as many neighbors as possible
- Contact your local law enforcement agency and schedule a meeting
- Discuss community concerns and develop an action plan
- Create a communication plan
- Take action by holding meetings and events
When planning, you’ll want to keep in mind that the Neighborhood Watch program is based on crime prevention that stresses education and common sense. It teaches citizens how to help themselves and focuses on awareness. For your safety as well as others, the program does not advocate members taking action beyond reporting observations. Community members should only serve as extra eyes and ears and report suspicious activities to law enforcement.
High-tech crime fighting incorporates social media
While the roots of Neighborhood Watch can be traced back to the days of Colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled streets, today’s program and other crime-fighting efforts incorporate social media and other fun technology platforms. Larger alarm monitoring companies often send their customers alerts of suspicious activity via email, Facebook, phone or mail. All of which you can share with your neighbors! You also can create a free Neighborhood Watch website for your group, provided by Neighborhood Link, or employ the Nextdoor app, used by more than 62,000 neighborhoods across the United States. Need inspiration? Check out what groups around the country are doing.
Crime prevention that works for your neighborhood
No matter what route you take, there are plenty of guidelines online to help you start or maintain a Neighborhood Watch Program, such as these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council:
- Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority.
- Ask people who stay home often to be “window watchers” and report any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
- Translate crime and drug prevention materials into other languages needed by non-English speakers in your community.
- Sponsor a crime prevention fair at a church, temple, community center or school.
- Hold cleanups to beautify the area, and ask neighbors to turn on outdoor lights at night.
- Work with businesses to repair storefronts, clean up streets, and create jobs for youth.
Attending a summer parade, hosting a cookout, or discussing lawn care tips with your neighbors? Add crime prevention to the conversation and make a positive difference in your town today.
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