A Neighborhood Watch is an organized effort by concerned residents to look out for each other's safety, and to help law enforcement officers protect people and their homes against criminals. It shows people how to cooperate with each other, and with police, in a common cause -- safe homes and neighborhoods.
Working together, neighbors learn how to safeguard each other's homes and reduce the risk of crime. They become more alert to unusual or suspicious circumstances, individuals, or vehicles. They learn that it is better to call the police when they see something suspicious, even if their suspicion proves unfounded, rather than to keep quiet and risk letting a neighbor be victimized by criminals.
Look for These
As a member of a Neighborhood Watch, it will be your responsibility to call the police about all suspicious activity in your neighborhood. You and your fellow members should report any unusual situations, such as:
- A stranger entering a neighbor's home or apartment that appears to be unoccupied.
- Anyone looking into parked cars, or removing parts, gasoline, or license plates from a car.
- Anyone entering or leaving a place of business after hours, or loitering outside.
- Breaking glass, gunshots, screams or abnormally barking dogs.
- Anyone loitering around the neighborhood, schools, or parks.
- Anyone going door-to-door who tries to open a door, or goes into a backyard.
- Anyone carrying unwrapped property at any unusual time, or running while carrying property.
- Any vehicle cruising slowly back and forth on your street.
- Any abandoned vehicle on your street.
- Windows or doors recently broken at a home or business.
- Anyone sitting in a parked car, especially at an unusual hour, outside a home or business.
What the Police need to know
- What happened? Where? When? How? Who did it?
- If a vehicle was involved, what was its license plate? Color? Make? Model? Year? Which way did it go when it left?
- How many people were in the vehicle? Were they armed? What was their sex? Race? Age? Height? Weight? Hair color? Clothing? Shoes? Any unusual characteristics?
- Did they say anything?
A Neighborhood Watch isn't just Residential
Businesses in your area are part of the neighborhood, too, and consideration of their vulnerability to crime should be a neighborhood concern. Somebody getting away with the burglary of the liquor store down the street doesn't just mean the store lost money; it means crime has come to your neighborhood.
Invite local business people to block meetings and give them the opportunity to voice their concerns and offer their suggestions for improving neighborhood security. Help protect their businesses -- call the police if you see something suspicious or if you hear a burglar alarm ring.
By working together with local businesses, you can make your neighborhood a safer place to live and work.
How to get Started
For information and free materials on how to organize a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH program, contact the Community Services Officer of the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0382.
A Word of Caution
A Neighborhood Watch does not mean prying or nosy neighbors who try to stop criminals all by themselves. As a member, your responsibility is to call the police and report what you've seen -- NOT to take action yourself.
Neighborhoods are made up of people who have the power to protect each other's safety. By reporting any suspicious circumstances to law enforcement agencies, members of a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH actually increase their own safety.
Police cannot fight crime they do not know about. When alert citizens keep them informed, the police are far more effective against crime -- and citizens have better protection and safer neighborhoods.
Join your neighbors to organize a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH program in your community. You'll be protecting your own home and your own safety.