Taking a proactive approach against crime is the best way to avoid falling victim. Statistics show that nearly 1 in 10 US households will be be victimized by burglary. The profile of the “typical” American family has changed, this change will give way to many more opportunities for criminals. Today there are many more single person households and two income earner residences. As a result many homes are left empty all day, every day. So what can we do to help prevent crime in our neighborhood?
There are numerous community based programs that you can take advantage of. Now more than ever, we need to form strong bonds with neighbors and law enforcement to improve our quality of life. Some effective forms of citizen or community based crime prevention involve citizen patrols, neighborhood watch and block clubs.
A block club is a group of residents from one block. The members of the block club focus on education and awareness. They work with neighbors to make them aware of the types of crimes happening within the community, what to look for and things to be more proactive. Education is focused on breaking the cycle of crime. Street surveillance is another very effective tool employed by block clubs.
Citizen patrols are a group of organized citizens all dedicated to one cause, preventing crime. Members of these patrols have husbands, wives, and children that they love and want to protect. This is the grass roots version of a citizen patrol and with the proper training can be very productive. The other form of citizen patrol involves hiring professional security organizations or off duty police officers to handle patrols. In this form the citizen patrol organizes and plans the patrols, but allows the third party to carry out the actual security.
Bike patrols have become popular and are effective because with a bike you can go places that a car won’t take you. An example of a bike patrol would involve a two citizen team, equipped with powerful LED flashlight, radio, reflective gear and some form of non-lethal self defense (pepper spray, TASER, stun gun). Others prefer vehicle patrols and still others in smaller neighborhoods do walking patrols. Taking an active role in your community is contagious. The pride you will feel is incredible and you will certainly gain the respect and support of your community.
Neighborhood Watch programs are the most notable and tend to cover larger areas and encompass more members. In a neighborhood watch program, citizens team up with law enforcement in a mutual commitment to prevent crime. Law enforcement officials will usually dedicate a member or two to neighborhood watch. The program trains citizens to report crime and suspicious happenings. Police will usually set up a special phone number for members to call if they need help or advice. In addition, short term and long term victims assistance is available through some neighborhood watch programs. Two statistics stand out regarding Neighborhood watch programs:
- Criminals state that the Neighborhood Watch program is very effective in dettering robbery. Burglars say that they will go elsewhere if they felt they were being observed or if residents challenged them.
- Learning professional crime reporting skills has resulted in much lower crime rates where employed
Of course these are just a handful of programs being utilized all over the country to deter and prevent crime. Citizens are dedicated and committed to taking back the streets they live on. Together, by forming strong community bonds with neighbors, friends and family, numerous organizations are doing just that. If you need more information a great resource is USA On Watch.