Participating in a neighborhood watch to discourage criminals from spending time on your block or street is something valuable you can do – even if you have little to no self defense experience or knowledge.

One of the most important things to remember about criminals is that they never want to be seen by anyone, because if they are ever caught by the police they won’t want someone to be able to identify them. When a criminal knows there is a good chance they are being watched, they will be far more likely to move on and look for an easier target.

A neighborhood watch is a program in which all the people who live in one area agree to watch out for each other. So if one of your neighbors notices a suspicious character hanging around your house, or a car that keeps driving up and down your block, they will notify you and contact the police. Criminals are warned of an active watch by signs that are posted prominently in the area. When they see these clear signals that the people in this community are working together to prevent crime, they will know their chances of being caught are much higher and go somewhere else.

Crime Prevention Begins With You

To get your own neighborhood watch together, set up a meeting and invite everyone who lives around you as well as representatives from your local police department. Try going door to door to either tell people personally or create a small flier that announces the time, location and intent of this meeting. On the night you do meet, explain to everyone the benefits of working together to watch over each other’s property, and allow a police officer to speak to the group. The officer will be able to offer great tips and training that will help you protect your neighborhood more efficiently. It’s a good idea to have someone who can speak English and Spanish present so they can translate to residents who are not bilingual.

One final thing that is important to remember – although people who are part of a local watch group can help prevent crime, they are not trained to stop a criminal. Stress to the members of your watch group that they are not taking on the job of a law enforcement officer, they are working with the rest of your neighbors to keep an eye on each other. Your group should work together to help deter crime, warn others of potential danger, but never put themselves at risk by trying to stop a crime on their own. If any criminal activity is spotted, the best thing to do is call the police immediately.

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