Your home security and safety plan begins in your home, but in order to keep your family truly safe, you need to go past the front door and into your neighborhood. Crime stoppers don’t just look out for themselves, they look out for others – especially their friends and neighbors. Follow these tips to make your home and community safer by getting active in your community – and helping others get active, too. The more neighbors you enlist, the safer you all will be.
1. Get to Know Your Neighbor
Taking the first step in making your community safer is as simple as starting a conversation. Taking the time to get to know your neighbors and letting them get to know you will help both of you. Becoming familiar with each other’s routines can help with recognizing when something out of the ordinary occurs.
2. Keep Your Kids Safe
If you or your neighbors have kids there are some steps you can take to help ensure their safety when they’re out of the house:
- Know where they are, where they’re headed – and who they’re with. Make sure they’re in the habit of talking to you before they leave and set a check-in time with them. If they’re headed somewhere with a phone, make sure you have it.
- Have your kids commit important phone numbers to memory. They should be able to recite their phone number and home address. If they are too young or have difficulty remembering, make a contact card they can keep on them at all times.
- Designate a ‘safe house’ in your neighborhood, a home you’ve identified and taught your kids to be a go-to for help during an emergency. Beyond the neighborhood, teach your kids how to get to adults that can help them, like police stations, libraries and stores. Talk to your kids about stranger danger. You may also want to consider using safety and security apps to help protect your children.
3. Get Organized
Informally working on crime prevention with your neighbors is a great start, but to make your neighborhood as safe as possible, you should consider implementing a Neighborhood Watch group. Sponsored by the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) and with roots dating back to colonial days, neighborhood watches are one of the most effective ways to deter crime in your community.
- Work with your local police or sheriff’s office to help get the right resources, training and information for you and your neighbors.
- Schedule regular meetings with your neighborhood to develop strategies and implement them.
- There may be existing organizations or groups in your area you can link up with to assist with organization and infrastructure.
- You can contact some home security providers like Guardian Protection Services, who help neighborhoods with their programs by providing free Crime Watch street signs.
- To learn more about how to setup a neighborhood watch program or join one already in place, you can visit the National Crime Prevention Council web site or download their PDF guide.
- Crime stoppers programs operate across the U.S. and were created to provide citizens with a means of assist law enforcement anonymously without being directly involved in the investigation process. TO learn more and to find the Crime Stoppers program in your area, visit CrimeStoppersUSA.org – if a program doesn’t exist in your area, you can start your own.
4. Be Aware
Understand the risks and threats to you and your family and neighbors by gathering facts about crime in your area. In addition to reading police reports, there are online resources available, such as SpotCrime and CrimeReports which map criminal activity in your area. You can also visit NeighborhoodScout which provides detailed statistics and demographic information of your community – or the area you’re considering moving to.
It’s extremely important to you and your family’s safety to know who is living in and around your neighborhood. The U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender database can help you identify if any predators live or work nearby. Other sources, such as FamilyWatchdog.us and CriminalWatchDog.com will also show you where registered offenders live on a map.