Watch Out For Your Neighborhood
by Chris McCaslin, Crime Prevention Officer for the Greenville Police Department
When it comes to crime prevention it is everyone’s business. There are several programs to choose from but the basics all center on education. Neighborhood watch has been around for more than 30 years and is one of the core programs for crime prevention. Neighborhood Watch relies on neighbors watching out for each other and reporting suspicious activity when it is occurring in the neighborhood. This program also works in apartment complexes and for business.
Fighting crime is easier than most people think. Neighborhood watch educates people on what suspicious activity is and how to properly report. Neighborhood Watch also introduces neighbors to neighbors forming a vested interest within the neighborhood. When neighbors are no longer strangers they care what happens to one another. If they see suspicious activity going on at the neighbor’s house they are more likely to report it. When a burglar enters a neighborhood watch area he knows that the residents have been educated about suspicious activity and how to report it. This means that the burglar knows his chances of getting caught are higher and he will move on to another neighborhood.
So what is suspicious activity? Suspicious activity is anything that does not look like it belongs in the neighborhood. This could be a vehicle parked in the area that you have not seen before. This could be teenagers in the backyard of a house owned by an elderly couple. It could be high levels of traffic coming going from house at all hours of the day and night.
So how do you report suspicious activity? In Greenville call 903-457-2900. You do not have to give your information, however this could be helpful to the officer responding. If you do not mind leaving your information and do not want to be contacted by the officer please tell the dispatcher. If you do not want the officer coming to your house but you do not mind talking to the officer, ask the dispatcher to have the officer contact you only by telephone. Another way of reporting suspicious activity can be through Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929, this is completely anonymous. If it appears to be a crime in progress call 911.
The last principle in neighborhood watch is Operation ID. Operation ID is simply making a record of the most commonly stolen property and engraving your eight digit driver’s license number on the property start the number with TX and follow with DL. It should look like this “TX12345678DL”. You should engrave TVs, computers, Blu-ray players, guns, bicycles, gaming systems, cameras, camcorders, and stereos. Take photos of the other items that are commonly stolen but you cannot engrave; such as jewelry and MP3 players. Property Engravers are available to check out for free at the W. Walworth Harrison Public Library and if you go to www.knowyourstuff.org you can register your property for free.
In Greenville, the Police Department provides neighborhood watch signs for our Neighborhood Watch areas. To have a sign placed in your neighborhood the requirements are that you have adequate participation, host a neighborhood watch meeting/training session, keep your neighborhood watch information up-to-date, and have at least one neighborhood watch meeting yearly (National Night Out does count as this meeting). If you have already formed your Neighborhood Watch and need to update your information or want to form a new Neighborhood Watch within the city, contact Officer Chris McCaslin, 903-457-2998. If you do not live in Greenville contact your local law enforcement agency and they will be happy to help introduce your neighborhood to neighborhood watch.