The advantages of a Neighborhood watch:
- It is one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime.
- It forges bonds among area residents.
- It helps reduce neighborhood crimes and creates a partnership between law enforcement and the community.
- It fights the isolation that crime both creates and feeds upon.
- Any community resident can join a Neighborhood Watch; young or old; single or married; renter of homeowner. Members can learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for each other and the neighborhood, and report suspicious activities to the local Sheriff's Department or Police Agency. You can form a Neighborhood watch group for any area: a street, mobile home park, apartment complex, marina, community recreation center, or park. Neighborhood Watch groups are not vigilantes. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors. Neighborhood Watch builds pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address community needs.
Starting a Neighborhood Watch
- Contact your local Sheriff's Station for assistance in training residents in home security and reporting crime.
- Select a block captain who will be responsible for organizing meetings and relaying information to group members.
- Encourage participation and commitment among residents and neighbors. Make a special effort to involve the elderly.
Suspicious Activities To Look For:
- Someone screaming or shouting for help, or being forced into a vehicle.
- Someone looking into windows or parked vehicles.
- Property being taken out of closed business or houses where no one is at home.
- Vehicles cruising aimlessly.
- Someone spraying graffiti on building.
- Strangers sitting in a car, stopping to talk to kids.
- Abandoned vehicles, suspicious people, unusual noises.
- A sudden change in a neighbor's routine: Newspaper pilling up, drapes drawn, mailbox overflowing with mail, etc.
- Enhance Your Community Well-Being
Organize regular meetings to discuss current issues such as:
- Childcare for school age kids
- Drug abuse
- Gang activity
- Hate crimes
- Recreational activities for young people
- Encourage the use of deadbolt locks, smoke alarms and other safety devices in home and commercial buildings.
Adopt a school or playground; start a block parent program.
Form a disaster preparedness program for your neighborhood.
The purpose of Business Watch is to form and support groups with other business to share information such as:
Business and emergency phone numbers in the event of emergencies.
Alert each other regarding suspicious persons, potential shoplifters, etc.
Work with local law enforcement agencies to provide employees with training on theft prevention and personal safety.
- The address and name of your business should be visible from the street.
- Use large, reflective numbers.
- Mark the address on rooftops for helicopter patrols.
- Install floodlights for alleyways, rear and front entrances, parking lots, etc.
- Trim shrubbery and plants to prevent access.
- Secure fire escape ladders to rooftops.
- Don't hang advertisements, flyers or other items around windows or doors which might obstruct view by cruising patrol cars.
- Leave blinds partially open during closing hours.
- Exterior doors should be solid core; rear doors facing alleyways should be steel.
- Glass doors should have mesh grill work.
- Mylar window coverings are inexpensive deterrents.
- Maintain an inventory of all office equipment; include the make, model and serial number of each item.
- Engrave your business name and a traceable number on each item, i.e., driver's license.
- Secure removable equipment with cables.
- Keep a log of keys issued to employees; use interchangeable cylinders on locks; change keys and combinations periodically.
- Install convex and wall mirrors.
- Place high cost merchandise near cash register.
- Small, expensive items should be kept in locked cases.
- Stolen credit card losses can be reduced by alertness and proper security measures by you and your employees.
- Check all credit card numbers against current "hot sheets" listing.
- Request valid ID and verify signatures when credit cards are presented.
- Contact store security and card issuer if you suspect fraud.
- Install a robbery alarm.
- Place surveillance camera behind the cash register facing the front counter.
- Replace video tapes regularly.
- Vary times and routs of travel for bank deposits.
- Don't use money bags which make it obvious to would be robbers.
- Keep a low balance in the cash register.
- Place excess cash in a safe or deposit it.
- Comply with a robber's demands. Don't be a hero!
- Remain calm and concentrate on being a good witness.
- Keep purses and personal valuables locked in desks or lockers.
- Do not release personal information to strangers.
- Have a least two employees, if possible open and close the business.
- Never open the door without knowing the person's identity.
- Do not be afraid to ask for some identification.
- Never let strangers into your home to use the phone. Make the call for them.
- Commit a mental description to mind.
- Before entering your home, have your keys ready before you reach the door.
- If you suspect someone is in your home, DO NOT GO IN. Get to a phone and dial 911.
- Install good locks on all doors and windows; use them. never hide keys outside.
- Make sure your garage door is secure.
- Close your blinds at night. Always lock the doors.
- Do not let callers know you are home alone. Use "we" instead of "I".
- Never give out personal information over the phone.
- If you live alone, use your first initial with your last name on the mailbox of the phone directory listing.
- If you get an obscene call, hang up immediately and notify the Sheriff's Station.
- When leaving home, make sure all the doors and windows are locked.
- Bring a companion whenever possible.
- Always try to travel in areas that are well lit and provide high visibility.
- Walk quickly and confidently to your destination while constantly paying attention to what is going on around you.
- Do not be afraid to make eye contact with those around you.
- Use mirrors or reflectors to see behind you.
- Should you find yourself unavoidably alone, be extra alert before entering an unsecured area.
- Walk facing oncoming traffic.
- Do not accept rides from strangers.
- Do not take short cuts or go through poorly lit areas, deserted streets, etc.
- If you suspect you are being followed, go to the nearest populated area such as a supermarket; or drive to the nearest Sheriff's, Police or Fire Station.
- Always lock car doors after entering and before leaving your car.
- Keep them locked while driving. Have your keys ready as you approach your car.
- Always park in well lit areas.
- Do not leave any packages, mail or personal items exposed in plain view.
- If you suspect that you are being followed, drive directly to the nearest Sheriff's, Police or Fire Station, or a well lit and populated location.
- Do not stop to aid stranded motorists. Place a call for assistance at the next populated stop.
- Keep your car in good working condition.
- Always travel with a full tank of gas in your car.
- If your car breaks down, open the hood and turn on the emergency lights.
- If someone stops to help, ask them to call for assistance.
- Keep your car doors locked and windows up until law enforcement arrives.
Tips for the Disabled
Disabled persons face many physical challenges. This could make them vulnerable to would-be assailants who assume the disabled are incapable of protecting themselves. If you are a disable person, or know someone who is, the following information may be helpful. Take the time to read and remember these tips. You may be able to prevent yourself or a friend from becoming a victim.
- Know and avoid situations and locations that could invite crime, i.e., dark alleys, unlit parking lots, etc.
- Decide what you plan to do in the event you are confronted, i.e., show confidence; scream, etc.
- Consider your options in these situations and practice your responses often so that you can recall them in a real situation.
- Consider having a peephole installed in your doors.
- Make sure you have the proper locks on doors and windows and use them while you are at home as well as when you are out.
- Never open the door for a stranger.
- Always demand verification of the stranger's identify and the purpose of the visit.
- Never tell a stranger calling by phone that you are alone or that you are disabled.
- Plan an avenue of escape from each room in your residence to use in case of an emergency, such as a break-in or a disaster.
- Always ask for identification from all solicitors and call their agency for verification.
- Don't commit yourself to purchase any charitable donations over the phone.
- Ask the caller to mail the information to you so you can make an informed decision.
- If you are not familiar with the company or organization, consult the State Department of Consumer Affairs of the Better Business Bureau.
- Be sure to read and understand all contracts before you sign them.
- If your sight is impaired, have someone you trust read the entire document to you.
- Beware of anyone who is offering products or services at a "once in a lifetime" offer.
- Consider having your checks mailed directly to your bank to avoid mail theft or robbery.
- Whenever possible, travel with someone you know. There is safety in numbers.
- Leave word of tour plans with family or friends - including your ultimate destination and estimated time of return.
- When waiting for a bus, train, etc., wait in a centralized location near other passengers.
- Keep your handbags and packages on your lap instead of on the floor or on the seat next to you.
- Consider using travelers checks instead of carrying cash.
- Be aware of those around you, particularly when exiting a bus of train.
- If you have a speech or hearing impairment, always carry a card of communication symbols.
If You Become a Victim of a Crime
Get help immediately by calling: the Sheriff's Department, the Police Department, a doctor, a friend, a relative. Try to remember as many details about the assailant as possible such as clothing, hair color, identifiable marks, etc. Be certain not to destroy any possible evidence.