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How to Start a Neighborhood Watch

If you’re concerned about home security then you might also be interested in reducing the amount of overall crime in your neighborhood. The time-honored neighborhood watch program is one of the best ways to do that.

When a neighborhood watch is really working it can reduce crime a great deal. First, because criminals know that people are paying attention. Criminals hate that–they’d rather go someplace where people are oblivious.

Second, neighborhood watch groups often organize clean-ups that reduce crime. That’s part of the “broken windows” theory of crime–the idea that broken windows, graffiti, trash, and abandoned vehicles all promote an idea that “nobody cares about this place.” Criminals then feel free to take advantage of the situation.

When neighborhood watch groups get out there and address problems they send a clear message that someone does care. Crime reduces proportionally.

neighborhood-watchNeighborhood watch groups also tend to make a neighborhood effort out of things like turning on outdoor lights. And it can give latchkey kids a measure of additional safety by giving them a “block parent” to turn to.

They really aren’t that hard to start. You can download a checklist right here.

It’s important to note that in spite of its many benefits a neighborhood watch program is still no substitute for a monitored alarm system in your home. Security and safety are all about layering protections and deterrents. No one protection or deterrent is ever enough.

It’s also important to understand that neighborhood watch groups aren’t vigilante groups. The role of the group is to pay attention to details, care for neighbors and to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement, and not to try to run down criminals. You might even turn the group to other important, neighborly tasks, such as “well checks” on elderly neighbors during disasters.

This is actually good news, since it means that just about any person can start, organize, and manage these groups. You don’t need special skills, you don’t need special training, and you don’t even really have to be physically fit. Why not start one in your neighborhood?


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