Neighborhood Break-Ins

by Anonymous

Visitor Question: My normally quiet neighborhood has experienced one actual day-time break-in and one rattling of the door to see if it was locked. This happened in broad daylight too. What are some effective approaches to this? We don't want to see any crime get started.

Editors' Reply
When there's more than one incident, consider that your wake-up call. It could be a coincidence, but prevention is better than having a full-fledged problem and some negative publicity.

The first thing we would suggest is starting a neighborhood watch program. Consult our page, which tells all about enlisting your local police department to help you with this. Most of them will be delighted to help.

If your police don't know about neighborhood watch or don't have the resources to support you, you can carry out some of the same ideas anyway. At the very least, have a block party where you close off the street or a part of it. If you have a median or a pocket park, no closure will be needed. Then make it a point to collect e-mail addresses, names, and phone numbers.

Get people to wear name tags and encourage them to really mingle so they will know who typically should be doing things like unlocking doors, removing furniture, jimmying the lock, or breaking the window if all else fails.

If your area has a high percentage of renters (we think anything over 20 percent is pretty high in the U.S.), you're going to have to work even harder to keep track of who's coming and who's going.

People are touchy these days, so watch out for privacy concerns. However, your security concerns are paramount, so you have a right to ask questions if something doesn't look right to you.

General neighborhood revitalization may be in order. In that case you need a good community organization to make a real difference.

Also look at simple maintenance. When he was mayor of New York, Rudy Guiliani talked about the broken windows principle, where seemingly unrelated small maintenance tasks (such as fixing a broken window) could give the appearance that people care about the neighborhood and cause an upward spiral to occur or at least interrupt a downward spiral.

Encourage trimming of bushes or otherwise reducing hiding places. A few very lushly landscaped estate types of subdivisions have had to resort to resident bumper stickers to deal with thievery, with rear view window hangers for guests. I hope you don't have to take things that far, but burglars talk too, you know.

Do what you need to do to avoid neighborhood break-ins. They give your housing market a bad reputation, as well as being traumatic for your residents.

In fact, crime prevention can absorb way too much neighborhood effort.

After all, if you are crime-free, you still must address maintenance, traffic safety, keeping an appropriate commercial base, and a host of other issues.

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