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Crime Prevention Tips

How can I help get a neighborhood watch started?

Anyone can be a victim of burglary or other crimes. Despite our best precautions, we often feel alone and vulnerable to crime. But there is a vital protection tool available --- something residents in the community can do by banding together, in connection with local law enforcement agencies, to prevent crime before it happens.

The neighborhood watch program:

Here's a community based program that's been proven to deter crime. The National Neighborhood Watch program, sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association since 1972, unites law enforcement agencies, local organizations and individual citizens in a community-wide effort to reduce residential crime. Thousands of these programs have been developed around the country, breaking down the isolation of neighbors as they work together with law enforcement officers. It is a remarkably successful anti-crime effort, as participants work together as a true community-neighbor looking out for neighbor.

Any community resident can take part-young and old, single and married, renter and home owner.

A few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law enforcement agency can spearhead the effort to organize a Neighborhood Watch.

Members learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for each other and the neighborhood, and report activities that raise their suspicions to the police or sheriff's office.

You can form a Neighborhood Watch group around any geographical unit: a block, apartment building, park, business area, housing complex office, etc.

Watch groups are not vigilantes. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crimes and helping neighbors.

How to get started:

Neighborhood Watch helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address other community concerns.

Many of your neighbors may wish that a program like Neighborhood Watch already existed in their area, but don't know how to start one. They may not realize just how simple it is.

If you don't start a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, perhaps no one will. But once you take these first simple steps, you may be amazed at how easy it is to organize the program and what a difference it will make.

Form a small planning committee. Decide on a date and place for an initial neighborhood meeting.

Contact your local low enforcement agency. Request that a crime prevention officer come to your meeting and discuss your community's problems and needs. Ask the officer to bring a list of local and national contacts that will assist you in organizing and maintaining your program.

Getting organized:

Contact as many of your neighbors as possible and ask them if they would be willing to meet to organize a Neighborhood Watch group in your area.

Once your program is beginning to get under way, there are several concrete steps you should take to make the organization solid and successful:

Contact your local law enforcement agency for help in training members in home security and reporting skills, and for information on local crime patterns.

Select a Neighborhood Watch coordinator and block captains who are responsible for organizing meetings and relaying information to members.

Recruit new members, keep up-to-date on new residents, and make special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and young people.

Work with local government or law enforcement to put up highly visible Neighborhood Watch signs and decals. These alert criminals that community members will watch and report their activities-often, this is enough to discourage them.

For more information:

National Neighborhood Watch Program
National Sheriffs' Association
1450 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3490

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