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Join a Neighborhood Watch Group to Prevent Burglary

by Michael Organ and Beth Hering
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Neighborhood Watch groups are a smart way to help protect the safety of your community.

According to the FBI, over 2.1 million incidents of burglary were committed in 2012. A burglary takes place in the U.S. every 14.3 seconds, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program Crime Clock. And burglary is not a crime limited to night-time. In fact, the National Crime Prevention Council reports that more than 60 percent of all residential burglaries occurred during daylight hours. While these statistics are alarming, they remind us of the ever-growing impact of crime in the United States -- and that no matter where you reside, you are a potential victim.

Not everyone can afford subscription-based home security systems that provide 24-hour monitoring. Local policing efforts are often stretched too thin for routine patrols and must rely on the active participation of community residents for crime prevention.

Since most crimes happen in isolation, a Neighborhood Watch team is employed to act as an extra set of "eyes and ears" when a police presence is not always available. But a Neighborhood Watch group does more than canvass its community. In most cases, involvement creates opportunity to get to know those living in your geographical area, helping to open the lines of communication with local police and better overall cooperation among residents in crime prevention efforts. Participating in a Neighborhood Watch group builds confidence and encourages residents to take an active interest in one another's properties and livelihoods.

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  • To find the nearest Neighborhood Watch group, contact your community association, call your local police department, or simply look for signs in your neighborhood.
  • Since most Neighborhood Watch groups work in shifts, find a shift that best suits your current schedule.
  • Consider a mode of transportation that's right for you. Vehicles offer a quick way to canvass a neighborhood. But walking (foot patrol) is also acceptable in most cases. Taking your dog for a walk is an excellent opportunity to assist in your community's Neighborhood Watch efforts.
  • Post Neighborhood Watch road signs with warnings to would-be intruders.
  • As an additional deterrent to crime, place a Neighborhood Watch sticker on your front door, a front window, or post a sign on your lawn. This small but significant act is an excellent deterrent and lets would-be intruders know that you and your community are watching.

Many neighborhoods already have a Neighborhood Watch program in place. For those that don't, speaking with your community association will help you gather more information about specific needs. Contacting local law enforcement organizations is also beneficial in helping initiate the task.

The following groups specialize in crime prevention in residential settings and offer good advice in starting a Neighborhood Watch program:

  • The National Sheriffs' Association provides a helpful Neighborhood Watch Manual.
  • USAonWatch offers relevant tips on how to protect your home from becoming a target of burglary.
  • Crime Watch services many geographical districts by providing a website where visitors can post suspicious activity to the attention of their local police departments. Police gather this information and use it to follow credible leads.
  • The National Neighborhood Watch Institute offers advice and makes products available to assist crime prevention efforts in residential neighborhoods.

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