When you think of home security today, you may think of fancy burglar alarms that call your cell phone if there’s an intruder, or perhaps Internet-based security door peephole cameras that let you monitor your home from anywhere in the world. While these things can certainly be implemented to improve your home’s security and your family’s safety, you shouldn’t forget the basics. Sometimes, inexpensive things can do a lot to add to the security of your home and your neighborhood.
Let’s talk about neighborhood crime watches. Though there are lots of things you can do to improve your home security, this is one of the most cost efficient (actually it doesn’t cost anything) and most effective means of reducing crime in an area.
The police can’t be everywhere all the time, and in truth many law enforcement agencies are under funded and have limited staffing. But it’s a foregone conclusion that in most neighborhoods someone is going to be home, even during the workday or while you’re off on a vacation. By starting programs that encourage citizens to be aware of what’s going on around them, you have a good chance of thwarting a lot of burglaries and other acts of vandalism.
Starting a neighborhood watch isn’t that hard, and as we’ve discussed, it can be an integral part of an effective home security setup.
Nor is being a part of a neighborhood crime watch a big intrusion on anyone’s time. Officially it is just the involvement of citizens (in cooperation with their local law enforcement agency) to cut down on criminal activity in the area. Basically all you have to do is report suspicious activities to the police. Maybe this suspicious activity is not happening on your premises, but a few doors down, but you still take the responsibility to report, for your safety and for that of your neighbors.
What constitutes suspicious activity?
Examples include screams or sounds of distress, loud or unusual noises, strange people loitering around a neighbor’s house (especially if that neighbor is out of town), broken or open doors or windows, people walking down the street back and forth and peering into parked cars, unknown cars parked in the neighborhood with no obvious reason, or a stranger carrying electronic goods or household items (possibly stolen from a house in the area). One of the more popular versions of a discreet security camera can be found within a smoke detector camera. They look like normal smoke detectors, but have a secret camera within them that the intruder will never suspect.
If there’s not a neighborhood watch in place where you live, or it’s been a while since anyone has held a meeting or organized anything, you may want to be the one to step up and check on things. The police will usually have information for you and can train you to serve as a block watch captains and your neighbors to be “citizen patrollers.” The police station may even volunteer to send an officer to your first meeting. Many stations have specific crime-prevention officers who can help your group get off on the right foot. Meetings need not be frequent or long; you just want to pass on information from the police to people in the neighborhood and keep the watch concept fresh in people’s minds.
A neighborhood watch need not be a lot of work, but the rewards of implementing one can be immense in the increased security in your neighborhood and just the knowledge that someone “has your back” when you’re away from home.