What Is Neighborhood Watch?
Neighborhood Watch is simply a program of neighbors watching other neighbors' property. It is thousands of eyes and ears whose owners have organized together in groups to report suspicious activities or crimes to the Sheriff.
Citizen participation is one of the most effective tools against crime because the job of stopping burglary, robbery or sexual assault is impossible for the Sheriff to accomplish alone. Crime watchers are networks of neighbors trained by Crime Prevention deputies in home and self-protection, suspect identification and how to serve effectively as additional eyes and ears for law enforcement agencies in their communities.
Neighborhood Watch groups provide a way for neighbors to help one another by keeping an eye on each other's homes and property. A telephone chain is set up to enable neighbors to keep one another informed of any criminal activity and to receive information from the Sheriff concerning descriptions of suspected criminals and other pertinent information.
When a member of a network sees a suspicious person or vehicle, he or she should call the Sheriff's Office immediately.
Role Of The Sheriff's Office:
Any problems which arise when instituting the Neighborhood Watch Program will be directed to and addressed by the Sheriff's Office personnel by the Area Coordinator.
How Does Neighborhood Watch Help?
Sheriff's deputies cannot be everywhere all of the time. Besides, even if they happen to be passing by, they cannot recognize that a car, a truck, or people do not belong in an area. However, those who live in a community will know if there are strangers in the area.
Neighborhood Watch Programs are of great help to our Sheriff's Office. There have been many instances where good neighbors, by reporting unusual activities, have been instrumental in the apprehension of criminals.
How Does Neighborhood Watch Work?
Neighborhood Watch works through mutual aid, neighbors watching out for neighbors. Neighbors know who you are, what type of car you own, and may be the first to notice a burglar at your window or door, or a strange car in your driveway.
If You See Something Suspicious. . .
- Write down the description of the suspicious person(s). Get the make model, color and license number of strange vehicles. Call the Sheriff's Office and other members of your Neighborhood Watch group immediately.
- You should never attempt to apprehend a suspect. This is the Law Enforcement Officer's Job.
- If You Are Going Away. . .
- Leave the following information with a trusted friend or neighbor:
- Where you are going
- How you can be reached in case of an emergency.
- When you expect to return.
- If anybody will be at your home. (gardener, repairman, etc.)
What Else Can You Do?
- Cancel the newspaper deliveries.
- Have the Post Office hold your mail, or have it collected by a neighbor, friend or relative.
- Store items of exceptional value in a safe place such as a safety deposit box.
- Notify the Sheriff's Office of your absence and request a "Vacation Watch" for your home.
- Use clock timers to activate lights, radios, etc., to give your home that "lived in" look.
All Neighborhood Watch needs to be effective is an alert and aware neighborhood willing to summon the Sheriff's Office when a crime or activity that suspects a crime is observed. Though it may be helpful, it is only necessary that you be able to direct sheriff's deputies to an area or address where a crime is being committed or about to be committed. If your neighbor is able is able and willing to do this, your property will be protected. If only limited percentages of neighbors are alert and aware, your whole neighborhood will be protected. This is true because the criminal element will soon enough learn that your neighborhood is not 'easy pickins'.
Are You Still Skeptical?
Well then walk from window to window where you live. You will notice that your vision can cover a considerable area. If you listed or otherwise knew the street address and directions from your residence of all that you could see, it can become easy to understand how much of your neighborhood you alone could protect!
You may become aware of something that is out of ordinary that you may feel is leading up to some type of criminal activity. This is your chance to prevent crime in your neighborhood. Remember, what is suspicious to you may not be to someone else. Don't hesitate to call law enforcement; better safe than sorry.
Types Of Crime
- Theft: Taking of another's property.
- Burglary: Illegally entering a structure, such as a house, trailer, shed, or garage.
- Vandalism: (Criminal Mischief) Damaging another's property with criminal intent.
- Trespassing: Being on someone else's property with out their permission.
- Prowler: Someone trespassing with malicious intent.
- Robbery: Taking property of another by use of fear, force or weapon.
Procedure For Reporting To Sheriff's Office
- Call directly to the Sheriff's emergency phone number--9-1-1.
- Say, "I would like to report a. . .(type of incident)."
- Give the correct house number, street name and closest major intersection. (May also add color of home or vehicle in driveway.)
- Give a complete description of the suspect and the suspect's vehicle, including tag number when possible.
- Stay on the line until the operator advises she has all the information; remember to ask for an "event number".
Contact Your HCSO District for Neighborhood Watch Program Information