According to Pat Daley, co-architect of Australia’s largest neighborhood watch scheme, almost every crime is witnessed by somebody. The simplest way to limit most criminal activity is to take away the opportunity. This can be done in many ways and is normally easy to implement.
Setting up a Neighborhood Watch
This can be a large undertaking, covering extensive areas but works just as well when a few people living in the same street work together. The Neighbourhood Crime Prevention Book by Pat Daley, recommends that areas be divided into groups of approximately twenty homes.
These should be on both sides of a street as people tend to know who lives across the road. A coordinator should be appointed in each group to pass on information as it comes in. Where there are large networks of people working together, monthly meetings are needed to keep focus and ensure that police communication is getting through.
How does Crime Watching Work in a Neighborhood
Most people know or at least recognize the people who live on either side of them and across the road. Crime prevention can be as simple as noticing a stranger loitering in the area and reporting him.
Residents are encouraged to keep in touch with each other and let each other know if they are away for a week or two and whether they are expecting any guests.
In some areas, police work with the coordinator of a Neighborhood Watch and pass on information about crimes that have been committed. This may include details of a car to watch out for and a description of the perpetrators if available.
Removing Opportunities for Committing Crimes
Criminals look for soft targets and these include homes that are obviously closed up while the owners are away. NeighborhoodWwatch members are normally happy to help out in these circumstances by emptying letterboxes, feeding pets and opening and closing curtains. A garden service can be hired to cut the lawn and weed, and lights and television can be set on a variable timer.
Police also recommend alarm systems, dogs and good quality locks as preventative measures. Don’t leave doors and windows open or unlocked whilst out and keep garden sheds and garages locked. Tools and gardening implements can be used to break into a home or as weapons.
Even in areas where there is no official Crime Watch or Neighborhood Watch, people can still make a difference by watching out for each other. If something looks suspicious, it is better to call the police than be sorry later. Crime prevention is something everyone is capable of participating in and it can draw a community together.