Our Neighborhood Watch group has been around at least 10 years and was started by a neighbor’s interest.
A gathering was held at the neighbor’s house where a police officer spoke to the us about how to form a neighborhood watch group. This meeting was initiated by another neighbor that was also “new” (we moved in about the same time) to the neighborhood.
Actually our group has probably been around almost 13 years as I remember our daughter was a little baby when this meeting was held. Over the years we have gotten to know each other, welcomed new neighbors as others have moved away and developed a communication system within our neighborhood that continues to evolve.
Our main idea is for our neighbors to recognize and get to know one another, keep them aware of any criminal activities/trends in our immediate area, to encourage them to be aware of any suspicious activity and not to hesitate to contact the police if they think anything is suspicious.
I tell neighbors to trust their instincts - - - if something looks suspicious, it probably is. I continue to remind neighbors not to hesitate to call the police. I have been assured by the police that they would much rather get a call and come out to check on the situation, whether they find anything or not, than not get a call and find out the next day that something happened.
At block captain meetings we have been told the police find neighbors often play a key role in solving some types of crime by alerting the police to suspicious activity in the neighborhood while it is happening. Neighborhood Watch block captains can provide another link to the police department for questions and information.
Some of the issues that have occurred in our immediate area since we started our group are: attempted and/or break-ins, burglaries, mail and other theft, “suspicious activity” (ex. unknown persons walking through yards late at night and finding bottles with tobacco in yards after this has happened), attempted abduction of young girl a few blocks away, a few scams, vandalism/damage (ex. multiple mailboxes overnight were vandalized and I talked to neighbors to alert them their mailbox was not an isolated incident).
Working part time and being a homemaker means I am home at various times of the day every day. We also have some people on our block that are retired. I think it helps to have people home at different times during the day, and at night, to “keep watch” on the neighborhood as well.
There is a Neighborhood Watch Block Captain meeting held once a year in the fall (for all of Roseville’s block captains) at the city hall. An example of the agenda would be: the Chief of Police and the Community Relations Coordinator/Crime Analyst providing information about crime statistics, trends and prevention followed by discussion of current ordinances and any crime concerns or issues affecting Roseville neighborhoods.
At this meeting the police department always has information available if you would like to distribute it to your group (ex. home and holiday security tips, magnets with the police phone number on it, code regulations, identity theft, “What is suspicious?” brochures, Neighborhood Crime Watch stickers for your house window, etc.)
Other speakers may be present depending on current issues (ex. a victim of a home improvement scam and a person arrested for participating in large-scale fraud and an identity theft ring both giving advice and tips as to how to be aware and protect yourself from these situations).
At the last meeting there was a block captain that spoke about creating and joining a virtual block club. At this time, we have not joined that group but continue work within our own neighborhood.
As a block captain, I try to keep my neighbors informed by forwarding any crime alerts from the Roseville Police Department (I receive police e-mail notifications of crime alerts which any Roseville citizen can sign up to receive). These crime alerts may be about specific incidents or general crime trends (ex. an increase in thefts from motor vehicles in parking lots of area businesses, and an attempted luring incident).
Sometimes there may be information that is just relevant to our neighborhood. With the online crime mapping available, I also try to check the area around our neighborhood periodically. If I see something that I think should be shared with our neighbors I will pass the information along. I also encourage the neighbors to look out for one another to help keep our neighborhood a safe place for everyone.
A recent example of a message I sent out was after a report from a neighbor about suspicious people walking through back yards and within the neighborhood. I made people aware of what had happened and suggested outside lights be left on for a few nights.
I also contacted the Roseville Community Relations Coordinator/Crime Analyst (currently Corey Yunke). I shared this information with him and asked if it would be possible for the police to drive through our neighborhood more often in the next week or so as a deterrent.
We have created a Neighborhood Watch group list (name, address, phone number, emergency contacts - - - for neighborhood use only) and provided a copy to each neighbor. I also have a separate list of e-mail addresses for neighbors and send e-mails via “bc” so people don’t have to feel like their e-mail address is out there for everyone to see. For neighbors that do not have e-mail I call them and/or print a paper copy and hand deliver the information.
Our main activity as a neighborhood is our annual block party. We always have our block party the first Tuesday of August, coordinating with the National Night To Unite event. We block off our street and gather in about the middle of the block to visit and share appetizers and desserts. We typically put in a request for a visit from the Roseville Police and Roseville Fire Department and have also been visited by McGruff the Crime dog several times.
Being involved in Neighborhood Watch can make everyone more aware of what is going on in their area, including kids. I have a teenage daughter and since our family has been a part of this program she hears me talking about Neighborhood Watch, communicating with neighbors about issues, and helping us watch out for our neighbors. She is more aware of things in our neighborhood and will draw my attention to something or someone she thinks looks suspicious.
I do feel our area of Roseville is a very safe place to live. However, people still need to be aware and not make it easy for themselves to become a victim of a crime. Sometimes criminals come into “safe areas” knowing these people may be easier targets.