Some neighborhoods experience less crime than others, but no hood is crime free. With the recent change in routines by criminals all over South Africa, it seems time for us to become a lot more vigilant.
Whether your neighbourhood is experiencing a crime wave or whether you just want to keep yourself safe, here are 5 simple ways to team up with your neighbors and accomplish your safety goals.
1 – Get to know your neighbors
First thing’s first, you need to meet your neighbors. Try and establish a partnership and make sure you have as many contact numbers as possible, and make sure to provide yours as well in case of emergencies.
Find out which of your neighbors work from home, stay home or work away so that you can keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
Have a trusted neighbour or two that you can update on when you are away from home so that they may also keep track.
2 – Invite Law Enforcement into your neighbourhood
If there are any visible policing patrols in your area, make a point of introducing yourself and getting officers details.
Contact your local Community Policing Forum to find out who is in charge of your area/sector.
Now that you know your neighbors, arrange a neighbourhood meeting and invite your local law enforcement officers to attend. Many would be happy to meet with the group, share some crime prevention tips and inform you of what crimes have been occurring in the area. They can also suggest ways for residents in your neighborhood to work together to protect one another.
3 – Find out who has surveillance cameras
While you have a police officer on hand, find out which of your neighbors protect their homes using video surveillance equipment. It is useful to find out which of these are live feeds, which ones hold recordings, what quality of video is available and what areas are covered where cameras are outward facing.
Burglaries, hit and runs, petty theft and other crimes may be picked up by video surveillance equipment in your neighbourhood and police may be able to use this information to track down criminals or educate the community.
4 – Form a modern day neighbourhood watch
A Neighborhood Watch program tells criminals that your community is serious about keeping crime at bay and it is a great way to work together and solve a range of neighbourhood challenges.
Gather neighbours and meet to discuss registering your group (this will give you a reference number when patrolling and make It easier to report, etc), who will patrol, and keep a roster (this will be important should any incidents occur)
Consider opening a chat group to keep a line of communication open between neighbors, but make sure to make it clear that the group is strictly for security updates. Discourage members from sharing unverified information and try to keep to directly sourced statements.
(Things like: “There is a man wearing a blue sweater walking down xx street towards yy house, holding something under his jacket, please keep an eye out” or “xyz just been gun pointed on corner of xx and yy street by two people wearing orange pants and green shirts, please be aware and alert if seen” are great…
Avoid using “copied this from a Facebook post” and “is this true” on a 1997 post)
5 – Keep up on the crime trends and spread the word
Do not keep quiet if you see certain people loitering about or seem suspiciously ‘regular’, somebody in the community may be able to ease your mind on the subject or share similar observations.
Report any crimes in the area to your policing forum as well as your neighbourhood watch group so that others may remain vigilant and change certain habits if need be.
(If there have been 4 hijackings at houses within a certain criterion in the last 4 weeks, make a habit of taking extra note of those properties and make sure everyone who fits the criteria is contactable)
6 – Consider security cameras
If crime becomes a problem, or your neighborhood wants to step up security before trouble starts, you may consider pooling resources and purchasing high-definition surveillance cameras. Post cameras at the entrance to your neighborhood so it can track the day, time, and license plate of any car that enters your community.