• If your neighborhood does not have a program, talk with several neighbors about starting one.
• Contact the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office for help in establishing the program and training neighbors.
• Select a coordinator and block captains who will help generate support for the program, and act as a contact person with the Sheriff’s Office to give and receive information about criminal activity in the neighborhood.
• Once training is complete the Sheriff’s Office will provide a Neighborhood Watch sign to post at the neighborhood entrance.
• Participate in the monthly NW meeting for the county to keep abreast of trends and law enforcement activities.To add a new question go to app settings and press "Manage Questions" button.
• Reduces and prevents crime
• Increases reporting of crime and suspicious activities
• Serves as a warning to criminals
• Provides residents with access to crime patterns and trends that may threaten them
• Promotes neighborliness
• Provides direct contact with the Sheriff’s Office
• Increases arrest and conviction of criminals due to the availability of eye witnesses
When is my home better protected?
• All exterior doors are solid core doors with deadbolt locks
• Doors are always locked
• Locks are changed after moving into a new residence
• Your home address is visible
• Exterior doors are hinged from within
• There are good lights in areas which otherwise might conceal prowlers
• Shrubbery close to your building is trimmed to prevent a break-in from going unnoticed
• There is wide angle viewers (peepholes) in solid doors
• Valuables are in a bank safety deposit box
• There are window stops to restrict opening
• Emergency numbers are close to all phones
• Mail and paper deliveries are always cancelled during vacations and absences
• Grass is mowed; snow is shoveled
• Light timers are used all the time, including periods of absences
• Garage door(s) are always closed and locked
• Vacation plans are never publicized or told to unknown persons
• You never leave a message on the door as to where you have gone
• All car doors are locked and keys are in possession of the owner
• Suspicious persons around your neighborhood are always reported
• License numbers of suspicious cars are always reported
• A trusted neighbor has access to your home during a vacation for periodic checks
• Identification is always requested of unfamiliar persons who ask to enter your home
• You avoid having personal identification on keys
• No information is provided to unknown callers, at the door and on the phone
• Valuables are engraved with your driver’ license number
Why organize a neighborhood against crime?
Crime and fear of crime threatens a communities well-being. Crime may be scaring everyone off the streets, or just looming on the horizon. People become afraid to leave their homes, to use streets and parks or to walk through their neighborhood.
Suspicion erupts between young and old. Businesses gradually leave. Crime in turn feeds on the social isolation it creates. Today’s lifestyles – many homes where both parents work, more single parent families, and greater job mobility – can contribute to this isolation and weaken communities.
Neighbors can prevent or break this cycle, and in the process, build their community into a safer, friendlier, and more caring place to live. Whatever your neighborhood is like, getting together to fight crime, violence, and drugs can help create communities where children can be children and people once isolated by crime and fear, can enjoy being a part of a thriving neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Watch program’s success is hinged on achieving and sustaining an appropriate level of community involvement to a point at which the neighborhood realizes a reduction and/or achieves prevention of residential burglaries and other residential area crime. Where they have been instituted, neighborhood watch programs have had a measurable effect of substantially reducing the fear of crime, encouraging crime reporting, stimulating member’s involvement in crime prevention, inhibiting drug trafficking, and spurring beautification activities. Statistics and criminals alike verify that when neighbors organize, the opportunity for crime is drastically reduced.
What are the goals of neighborhood watch?
To increase the community awareness, enhance individuals’ power of observation, and encourage mutual assistance and concern among neighbors to reduce crime. The crimes normally targeted are burglary and other property crimes prevalent to neighborhoods. Groups can obtain information and assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and other governmental agencies that can help to improve living conditions.
To allow the concerns of the neighborhood to be presented in a unified voice to both law enforcement and governmental agencies. Groups can inform community leaders on programs and actions that the “people” support. When people work together as neighbors, they create a better place to live for all of them, as a genuine neighborhood.
To develop a neighborhood action program where neighbors help each other by watching each other’s homes and reporting suspicious persons in their neighborhoods to the Sheriff’s Office. They allow Sheriff’s Office personnel to train citizens on how to be pro-active by preventing crime and how to recognize and report criminal activities. Then if something suspicious occurs, you will know how to report it to the Sheriff’s Office and how to notify your neighbors, alerting them against further intrusion. With a heightened awareness and a “sense of community” achieved, criminals will find it much harder to work unnoticed in your area.
To train citizens in various personal and physical security strategies and help them in making their home more secure. Most crimes are opportunistic and can be reduced or removed by simple crime prevention techniques. It provides the Sheriff’s Office a method to give the community information on home security and personal safety. The three main things a resident can do to reduce the risk of burglary are:
• The proper use of good locks
• Participate in Operation Identification
• Participate in a Neighborhood Watch Program. Not only used as a strong tool to fight crime, but also as a strong social program. The Neighborhood Watch can also be utilized to engage citizens in other neighborhood projects.
To promote awareness techniques and crime reporting, but not the physical confrontation of criminals. Watch groups are not vigilantes and do not assume the role of the Sheriff’s Office. Citizens are only asked to be more alert, observant, caring and to serve as extra eyes and ears for the Sheriff’s Office.
To constantly expand and change to meet the needs of the community.
The growing need for neighborhood watch
It is a fact of life that relationships in many of today’s communities have become less personal than they were years ago. Families are more transient, children have more activities that take them and their parents away from home, and there are more families with both parents working. The once-familiar sight of families visiting with each other on front porches while keeping a watchful eye on children and activities in the neighborhood is a rarity in most communities today. These trends and the decrease in time families spend at home are two of the essential ingredients that make communities a target for crimes of opportunity, such as burglary.
The ABCs of neighborhood watch
Any community resident can join — young and old, single and married, renter and homeowner. A few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law enforcement agency can spearhead the effort to organize a Watch. Members learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for each other and the neighborhood, and report activities that raise their suspicions to the police or sheriff’s office. You can form a Watch group around any geographical unit: a block, apartment, park, business area, public housing complex, office, and marina. Watch groups are not vigilantes. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors. Neighborhood Watch helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address community concerns such as recreation for youth, childcare, and affordable housing.
How does one start a neighborhood watch program?
Forming a Neighborhood Watch Program is a challenge. The first step is to find out the initial interest level in your neighborhood. Any attempt at beginning an organized Watch group will not be successful unless a certain level of community interest exists.
Concentrate your initial effort by organizing those neighbors with whom you have occasional contact. For example, if your block or street is mostly single family homes, invite neighbors on both sides of the street and adjacent corners. If you live in an apartment or condominium, include everyone in your building and in the adjacent buildings as space permits.
It is strongly suggested that you start by speaking with neighbors on your block to obtain a feel for how many people may be interested in attending Neighborhood Watch training. Prepare a Neighborhood map and clearly define the boundaries for your watch area. Start small, less than fifty homes, and you can expand as you become more organized. Citizen interest and involvement are crucial to the success of this program.
Joining a neighborhood watch
Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Town Watch, Crime Watch — whatever the name, it’s one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear. Neighborhood Watch fights the isolation that crime both creates and feeds upon. It forges bonds among area residents, helps reduce burglaries and robberies, and improves relations between police and the communities they serve.
Neighborhood watch is a joint responsibility
The prevention of crime– particularly crime involving residential neighborhoods–is a responsibility that must be shared equally by the Sheriff’s Office and the private citizens. The fact is, the impact on crime prevention by the Sheriff’s Office alone is minimal when compared with the power of private citizens and the Sheriff’s Office working together.
Neighborhood Watch is based on this concept of cooperation, and nationwide statistics prove that it works. When citizens take positive steps to secure their own property and neighbors learn how to report suspicious activity around their homes, burglary and other related crimes decrease dramatically.
Duties of the neighborhood watch coordinator
The Neighborhood Watch Coordinator’s job is crucial to the success of your program. This may be just the right job for a retiree or other individual who has extra time at home. This person’s responsibilities may include:
• Expanding the program and maintaining a current list of participants and neighborhood residents, including names, addresses, home and work telephone numbers, and vehicle descriptions.
• Acting as a liaison between Watch members, Sheriff’s Office, civic groups, and Block Captains.
• Arranging neighborhood crime prevention training programs.
• Obtaining and distributing crime prevention materials, such as stickers and signs.
• Involving others to develop specific crime prevention projects.
• Encouraging participation in “Operation Identification,” a nationwide program in which personal property is marked indelibly with a unique identifying number to permit positive identification if valuables are lost or stolen.
Duties of a block captain
Block Captains should be designated for every 10-15 homes, and they should be directly involved with their immediate neighbors. The block captain’s responsibilities may include:
• Acting as a liaison between block residents and the Coordinator.
• Establishing a “telephone chain” by compiling and distributing a current list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of block participants.
• Visiting and inviting new residents to join Neighborhood Watch; notifying them of meetings and training sessions.
• Establishing the “Operation Identification” program.
• Contacting each neighbor as often as possible to discuss possible crime problems, needs for assistance, and suggestions for program improvement.
Developing citizen awareness through crime prevention programs
Monthly meetings of your Neighborhood Watch group should be utilized for programs to develop citizen awareness and proper response to suspected or actual criminal activities. Speakers from the Sheriff’s Office as well as from a wide range of community organizations are valuable resources for this training.
Appropriate program topics may include the following:
• Recognizing suspicious activity
• Describing and reporting events, vehicles, and persons
• Home security inspections
• Home security measures
• Telephone security
• Confrontations with intruders
Crime Reporting: describing and reporting of events, vehicle and persons
Practicing to develop skills in providing quick, accurate descriptions is an excellent NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH meeting activity. In attempting to describe events, vehicles, or persons, write down the details of what you have observed while they are still fresh in your mind, do your descriptions to Sheriff’s Office will be as accurate as possible.
When describing events, write down as much detail:
• WHAT happened
• WHEN it happened
• WHERE it occurred (note the nearest cross street, home address, or landmark in relationship to the event)
• Whether injuries are involved (Be prepared to report visible or suspected personal injury. Be as specific as possible — this could save a life!)
• Whether weapons are involved (this information, whether observed or suspected is vital to the responding deputies)
When describing vehicles, write down as much detail:
• Vehicle license number and state, make and type of vehicle, color, and approximate age
• Special designs or unusual features, such as a convertable top, mag wheels, body damage, pinstripes, etc.
• Direction of travel
• Number of Occupants and a description
Describing of Persons:
In preparing descriptions of persons, it is important to write down the following:
• Height (estimate from eye contact level measured against your height)
• Hair (color and length)
• Facial Hair (beard/mustache)
• Shirt/tie, style and color
• Coat/Jacket, style and color
• Pants, style and color
• Shoes, style and color
• Any peculiar or distinguishable mannerisms, physical disabilities, disfigurations, scars or tattoos
• Voice characteristics
• Direction of movement
Recognizing suspicious activities
BE ALERT! Anything that seems slightly “out of place” or is occurring at an unusual time of day could be criminal activity. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO APPREHEND A PERSON COMMITTING A CRIME OR TO INVESTIGATE A SUSPICIOUS PERSON OR ACTIVITY. Call the Sheriff’s Office immediately, and do not worry about being embarrassed if your suspicions prove to be unfounded. The Sheriff’s Office would rather investigate than be called when it is too late.
The following incidents MAY indicate possible criminal activity and should be reported:
• Continuous repair operations at a non-business location (stolen property being altered)
• Open or broken doors and windows at a closed business or unoccupied residence (burglary or vandalism)
• Unusual noises, such as gunshots, screaming, or dogs barking continuously (burglary, assault, or rape)
• Sound of breaking glass (burglary or vandalism)
• A person exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms (person may be injured, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise needing medical attention)
Time and accuracy are critical in reporting crime or suspicious events. Call 911 to report life-threatening incidents or a crime in progress, and use the Non Emergency Number 658-4400 for crimes that have already occurred. Your call could save a life, prevent an injury, or stop a crime. You do not have to give your name, although this is often helpful.
Reporting a suspicious person
Obviously, not every stranger who comes into a neighborhood is a criminal. Legitimate door-to-door sales and repair people appear in residential areas frequently. Occasionally, however, criminals disguise themselves as these workers; therefore, it is important to be alert to the activities of all nonresidents.
The Sheriff’s Office should be notified in the following circumstances, who MAY be suspects in the crimes indicated:
• Going door to door in a residential area, especially if one or more goes to rear of residence or loiters in front of an unoccupied house or closed business (burglary)
• Forcing entrance or entering an unoccupied house (burglary, theft, or trespassing)
• Running, especially if carrying something of value or carrying unwrapped property at an unusual hour (fleeing the scene of a crime)
• Heavy traffic to and from a residence, particularly if it occurs on a daily bases (drug dealing, vice or fence stolen property)
• Screaming (rape or assault)
• A stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child (child abductor)
• Someone looking into windows and parked cars (auto theft or larceny from vehicle)
• Cars, vans, or trucks moving slowly with no apparent destination, or without lights. (Casing the neighborhood, looking for a victim)
• Loitering around schools, parks or secluded areas (sex offender)
• Offering items for sale at a very low price (trying to sell stolen property)
• Loitering or driving through a neighborhood several times or appearing as delivery person with a wrong address (burglary)
Reporting of suspicious vehicle
Vehicles in the following situations MAY be but not limited to, involved in crimes and should be reported to the Sheriff’s Office.
• Slow moving, without lights, following aimless course in any location, including residential streets, schools, and playgrounds. (burglars, drug dealers, or sex offender)
• Parked or occupied vehicles, containing one or more persons, especially at an unusual hour (lookouts for a burglary, drug deal, or robbery)
• Parked by a business or unoccupied residence, being loaded with valuables (burglary or theft).
• Abandoned in your neighborhood (stolen vehicle)
• Someone, especially a female or juvenile, being forced into a vehicle (kidnapping, assault, or attempted rape)
• Business transactions taking place, especially around schools and parks (sale of stolen items or drugs).
• Attempt of forcible entry, especially in a parking lot (theft of car or its contents)
• Persons detaching mechanical parts or accessories from it (theft or vandalism)
• Objects being thrown from a vehicle (disposing of contraband)
What if confronted by an intruder?
Develop the habit of surveying your home each time you approach it. If you notice evidence that someone has broken it, DO NOT ENTER. Go to the nearest telephone and call 911. Should you confront a burglar, the very first rule is: GET OUT OF HIS WAY! Never get between a burglar and the exit, and never try to stop him. It may cost you your life.
If you are in your home and someone is prowling outside, make it appear that several people are at home. For example, call to someone, “Dan, there’s something outside.” Call the Sheriff’s Office; and if it is dark, turn on the lights. If an intruder has already broken in, retreat and put other doors between the two of you. It is a good idea to have a deadbolt on an interior door.
If you cannot get out, try to signal a neighbor by throwing something through a window; just noise can frighten a burglar away.
If someone should enter your bedroom while you are in bed, pretend that you are asleep as long as he does not come near you.
If the intruder is armed, do what he says, and see that the children do so as well. Remain calm– intruders generally want your property rather than your life.
Memorize a description of the intruder and when it is safe to so, call 911 immediately.
• Never give your personal information (name, age, address, etc.) to a stranger on the telephone
• Never let a stranger on the telephone know when you will or will not be home
• Never let a stranger on the telephone know you are home alone, instruct babysitters never to tell anyone who calls that they are home alone with children
• Teach children old enough to be left alone never to tell a stranger who telephones that parents are gone. Teach them to say, “My mom can’t come to the phone now. May I take a message?”
• Credit card/Social Security #, etc. Do not give out a credit card or social security number to someone whom you do not know or whom you did not call