Neighborhood Watch

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Neighborhood Watch - The Basics

A Neighborhood Watch is an important tool families can use to protect their neighborhood against burglars and other criminal activity. It can sound intimidating for those who may want to volunteer but aren't sure how or what exactly they need to do. A Neighborhood Watch is simply a number of neighbors opening lines of communication and helping each other stay aware and alert for suspicious people and activities.

Meetings

The Roswell Police Department can come to your neighborhood meeting to either help you start a Neighborhood Watch, or provide updates and tips to your neighborhood group. Every neighborhood is different and their needs vary based on crime trends in a certain area, community involvement, and other factors. Contact the Community Relations Unit at 770-640-4100 and we can arrange a meeting to suit your neighborhood's needs and establish contacts between the police department and your neighborhood. We are available for meetings on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Neighborhood Watch Leader

As your Neighborhood Watch gets established, remember that keeping an open line of communication with the police department is very important. Establish a Neighborhood Watch Leader that can be the go-to person that the police department can use to send out alerts or other information specific for that neighborhood or area. This person can then distribute the information as they see fit. People in the neighborhood can then contact the Neighborhood Watch Leader with questions or information and, if something comes up that the police should be aware of, the Neighborhood Watch Leader can send it to their police department contact for that neighborhood. This streamlines the communication and prevents a duplication of information which can lead to confusing misinformation.

Getting Started

Most likely, usually by living their normal lives, neighbors are already familiar with each other's living patterns. This includes knowing how many people live in a house, the cars they drive, and normal schedules for work and school. In this day in age, it is becoming less common to actually go out and meet your neighbors, but most people know at least the names of the neighbors to the left, right, and across the street. If this describes you, you are already on your way to starting a Neighborhood Watch!

Take the extra step to speak with your neighbors and open a line of communication. Exchange email addresses and cell phone numbers. Talk to each other about letting each other know when you see an unusual vehicle pull up in the other's driveway, or strange people knocking on doors. Build a trust so you can let each other know when family members are usually home, which members go to which schools, and when your family will be leaving to go on a trip or on a vacation. Let the network and communication grow through the neighborhood. Consider having a neighborhood cookout or other activity to get everyone together and talk about opening and keeping open these lines of communication.

Then, neighbors can work together to protect their home through vigilance. For example, those persons who are home during the day know that something may be wrong if they see people around a home when family members are usually absent. If there is a night-owl in the neighborhood or someone who routinely comes home late at night, that person can help keep an eye out for prowlers. If one family will be gone for a week, they can ask one of the others to pick up their newspapers, mail, and maybe turn lights on or off to give their house a lived-in appearance. This gives neighbors a no-cost device to help protect their homes and property from criminals.

Suspicious Activity

We at the Roswell Police Department are routinely asked, "How do I know if something is suspicious?" Much of it comes down to your gut-instinct. You know your neighborhood better than anyone, and you know if something doesn't seem right. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but they are some things to look for. Always take into consideration the totality of the circumstances, since one particular person or activity alone may not be unusual but as you put the pieces together, you may find that something is just not right.
  • A stranger entering a house when it is unoccupied or walking around the sides or backs of houses.
  • Anyone peering into parked cars or pulling on door handles.
  • Anyone removing car parts, license plates, or gasoline.
  • Apparent business transactions conducted from a vehicle.
  • Anyone loitering around schools, parks, secluded areas, or on the street.
  • Any vehicle parked strangely, or driving around with no obvious purpose or direction.
  • Occupied vehicles parked at unusual hours, perhaps at a clubhouse or at the end of a street.
  • Vehicles being loaded with valuables or bags at an unoccupied house.
  • The sound of breaking glass or a loud explosive noise.
  • Someone going door-to-door who tests the door to see if it is locked.
  • Open doors or broken windows at an unoccupied house.
  • Strange vehicles consistently visiting a house or area to meet people.
  • A person claiming to be a delivery/service person without proper ID.

How Can I Prevent Crime In My Neighborhood?

Remember that when criminals find easy targets, they will likely return! These proven crime prevention measures will go a long way toward keeping you and your neighbors from becoming a victims:
  • Keep your home's doors, garage, and windows shut and locked at all times.
  • Improve your outdoor lighting.
  • Do not leave lawn equipment or toys outside or in an open garage.
  • Keep car doors locked and windows shut even in your driveway or garage.
  • Do not keep valuables in plain sight.
  • Check behind you when turning into your neighborhood or apartment complex, and again before turning into your driveway, especially if you have just made an expensive purchase such as high end electronics. If you suspect someone has followed you, drive past your home to a well-lit and populated area and call 911.