What is Neighborhood Watch?
Neighborhood Watch is a group of neighbors looking out for neighbors. It is getting to know each other and becoming familiar with your neighbors’ habits and vehicles so that you will know when something is suspicious or out of the ordinary.
In addition to recognizing potential suspicious activities, Neighborhood Watch participants report such activity by calling 911. After calling 911, also notify your Neighborhood Watch Chairperson or neighborhood voice mail. All of this doesn’t make you a nosy neighbor – it makes you a good neighbor in the old-fashioned sense of the word.
Many people don’t want to bother the police because they are afraid that it may not be a real emergency or that they may be embarrassed if their suspicions turn out to be unfounded. The police would much rather be called out to investigate than to be called after a crime has been committed.
When in doubt, always call 911. The 911 dispatch center is staffed with trained operators who will evaluate your call, rank its priority, and dispatch it to the appropriate officer.
Neighborhood Watch does NOT mean being a vigilante. Participants do not confront suspects or take any personal risks at all.
How Can I Be a Neighborhood Watch Participant?
Neighborhood Watch doesn’t take a lot of time or money. Contact your Block Captain or area Chairperson to find out specifically what Neighborhood Watch can do for you and what you can do for Neighborhood Watch. Some basics are:
Keep Informed – Attend area Neighborhood Watch meetings, read the Neighborhood Watch materials provided to you, and if your neighborhood has “Crime Alert” voice mail, call it regularly to keep informed. Learn about crime prevention and share the information with your neighbors.
Volunteer – Offer your help whenever you can. Many neighborhood groups need help with copying or distribution of materials, telephone calls, meetings, refreshments, etc. Pitch in to help whenever and wherever you can in the area that interests you most.
Contribute – Neighborhood Watch doesn’t cost a lot, but some costs usually are involved, such as printed materials, voice mail, or meeting costs. Some groups ask for a small amount of dues from members; many others rely only on contributions from their neighbors. Even a small contribution may make a huge difference in your Neighborhood Watch group. Give if you can.
How can I Prevent Crime?
These proven crime prevention measures will go a long way toward keeping you from becoming a crime victim:
- Keep your home’s doors, garage, and windows shut and locked at all times.
- Improve your outdoor lighting.
- Don’t leave lawn equipment or toys outside or in an open garage.
- Keep car doors locked and windows shut while driving and when parked.
- Don’t keep valuables in plain view inside your car.
- Check behind when turning into your neighborhood or apartment complex and again before turning into you alley or driveway. If someone is in close proximity, drive past your home to a well lit and populated area to call 911. Remember that as many crimes occur during daylight hours as at night. Don’t let your guard down because it is day.
- Take vacation precautions: Ask someone to pick up mail and newspapers daily. Arrange to have your lawn mowed or leaves raked. Even better, have someone stay in your home while you are away, if this is possible.
What Are the Benefits of Neighborhood Watch?
You will be more aware of the types of crimes in your area and how to prevent them from happening to you. You will learn about crime prevention techniques to make your family, property, and neighborhood safer. You and your family will feel safer, which may be almost as important as actually being safe! You will meet more neighbors and develop new friendships. Your will have neighbors who will look out for your property when you are away and vice versa. You will have a sense of accomplishment from doing something about crime. Who knows? – you may just turn your neighborhood or apartment complex back into that old “Beaver Cleaver” kind of neighborhood where everyone knows each other.
Neighborhood Watch Overview
- Know your neighbors.
- Be observant.
- Be aware of what is suspicious.
- Always report any suspicious activities and crimes to 911 and then inform your Neighborhood Watch Chairperson.
- Be knowledgeable about area crimes and the related prevention tips.
- Take simple crime prevention measures to avoid unnecessary crimes.
- Attend area Neighborhood Watch meetings.
- Volunteer with your area Neighborhood Watch organization.