- Neighbors getting to know each other and working together in a program of mutual assistance.
- Citizens trained to recognize and report suspicious activities in their neighborhoods.
- Crime prevention techniques such as residential security, operation identifications, etc.
Neighborhood Watch is a network of neighbors trained by crime prevention officers in home and self-protection, suspect identification and how to serve effectively as additional eyes and ears for law enforcement agencies in their communities.
Neighborhood Watch works effectively at the block level because people can easily see, recognize, and cooperate. They can see and hear what activity is taking place across the street, next door, or at the property to the rear. They can most likely recognize persons or vehicles as belonging to or not belonging in the neighborhood.
Neighbors can let each other know when they will be away for the day, evening, weekend, or on vacation, and thereby establish a targeted watch during absence. For extended periods of absence, neighbors can take turns making sure the absent neighbor's home does not gradually take on the signs of an unoccupied dwelling. The residents in a block know better than anyone else what is usual or unusual, normal or suspicious. Therefore, they are the most effective source to provide authorities with helpful information.
How can we help?
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY:
Check first with the local law enforcement agency before starting any kind of community prevention program. They may be able to help organize your initial meeting.
Explain that you would like to start a Neighborhood Watch group and ask for assistance.
Ask about the crime situation in your neighborhood.
Ask to have a law enforcement representative at your first meeting.
TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS:
Canvass your neighborhood.
Discuss crime problems in your area. Briefly explain the value of Neighborhood Watch programs.
Ask about convenient times to schedule your initial Neighborhood Watch meeting.
BE SURE TO MENTION THAT:
Neighborhood Watch does not require frequent meetings.
It does not ask that anyone take any personal risks to prevent crime.
Neighborhood Watch leaves the responsibility for apprehending criminals where it belongs-with your law enforcement agency.
No law enforcement agency can function effectively without the concerned assistance of responsible citizens. We are depending on you to call and tell us whenever you observe suspicious persons or actions.
Some people fail to call the police simply because they are not aware of what seemingly innocent activities might be suspicious. Others may notice suspicious activity and be hesitant to call for fear of seeming a "nosy neighbor" or a "crank". Still others take it for granted that someone else has already called.
Call your local law enforcement agency immediately about all suspicious activity-and do it yourself. Don't worry about "bothering" the authorities because that is what they are for. Don't worry about being embarrassed if your suspicions prove unfounded. Think instead about what could happen if you don't act.
- What happened?
- Is anyone injured?
- Vehicle license number
- Vehicle description
- Direction of flight
- Description of persons (including clothing)
Basically, anything that seems even slightly "out of place" for your area or during the time of day in which it occurs may mean criminal activity. Some of the most obvious things to watch for and report include:
- A stranger entering your neighbor's house when it is unoccupied-it may be a burglar!
- A scream heard anywhere may mean robbery or rape.
- Offers of merchandise at ridiculously low prices could mean stolen property.
- Anyone removing accessories, license plates or gasoline from a car should be reported.
- Anyone peering into parked cars may be looking for a vehicle to steal or for valuables left displayed in the car.
- Persons entering or leaving a business place after hours could mean burglars.
- The sound of breaking glass or any other loud explosive noises could mean an accident, housebreaking or vandalizing.
- Persons loitering around schools, parks, secluded area or in the neighborhood could be sex offenders.
- Persons around the neighborhood who do not live there could be burglars.
Any vehicle moving slowly and without lights, or following a course that appears aimless or repetitive is suspicious in any location, but particularly so in area of schools, parks and playgrounds. Occupants may be "casing" for places to rob or burglarize, or could possibly be a drug pusher or sex offender.
Parked, occupied vehicles containing one or more persons are specially significant if observed at an unusual hour. They could be possible lookouts for a burglary in progress, even if the occupants appear to be lovers.
Vehicles being loaded with valuables are suspicious if parked in front of a closed business or untended residence even if the vehicle is a legitimate looking commercial unit. More and more professional thieves are taking the time and trouble to "customize" their vehicles with special signs in order to move more freely without suspicion.
Apparent business transactions conducted from a vehicle, especially around schools or parks and if juveniles are involved, could mean possible drug sales.
Persons being forced into vehicles-especially if juveniles or females-may mean a possible kidnapping.
The abandoned vehicle parked on your block may be a stolen car.
Continuous "repair" operations at a non-business location could mean stolen property being stripped, repainted and otherwise altered.
Open or broken doors or windows at a closed business or residence whose owners are absent could mean a burglary is in progress or already completed.
Unusual noises such as gunshots, screaming, sounds of combat, abnormally barking dogs- anything suggestive of foul play, danger or illegal activity should be reported.
While some, if not all, of the suspicious situations described could have innocent explanations, the authorities would rather investigate a possible crime situation that be called after the fact – when it is too late. Your call could save a like, prevent an injury or stop a criminal act.