Interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group? Great! We’ve put together a plan we feel works:
Step 1: Discover – Try to find out if there is an existing Neighborhood Watch program in your immediate area. Each watch group should ideally cover a couple of blocks at the most; focused on properties within “viewing range”. Watch groups should not cover huge areas, even if crime activity is low in those areas. Groups that cover more than a few blocks are unable to get to know their neighbors and recognize what is normal activity and what is not normal activity, and they cannot regularly watch your front or back yard for criminals.
Step 2: Establish – If the watch group in your area is disorganized, inactive, too large, or non-existent, meet with two or three of your immediate neighbors. Have them over to your home. Discuss your concerns and the things you can do to together to prevent crime. Schedule your next meeting in advance, but make sure it is a couple of weeks out. Do not hold meetings too often.
Step 3: Grow – Have another meeting, but this time ask each of the neighbors who previously attended to each bring a few more neighbors. Contact the Burlington Police Department or a member of Citizens Against Crime or an active member of another Neighborhood Watch group and ask them to have someone attend the meeting. They can give you advice and tips to help you to continually strengthen your watch program.
Step 4: Learn – Get to know each and every one of your neighbors, even if they do not attend the meetings. Learn who they are, what their schedules are, what cars they drive, etc. Build a relationship with your neighbors. Build trust. Watch over their property as you would want them to watch over yours.
Step 5: Maintain – It is critical to maintain what you’ve put together and to be consistent. Have regular meetings, block parties, mini-fundraisers for your immediate area as needed for improvements. Other Neighborhood Watch groups in the community are great sources for ideas and support.
If at any one of these steps you are unsure of something, have a challenge, or simply want someone to walk through it with you, please contact Citizens Against Crime. We are here to aid all stages of watch programs and work very closely with the Police Department and leaders in the community. We can also put you in touch with other Neighborhood Watch groups so they can give you ideas or help get you started.