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How to Set Up a Neighborhood Watch

One way to help keep your home and family safe and secure is to join the local neighborhood watch. If one doesn’t exist, volunteer to create one. Six out of 10 households belong to a neighborhood watch when one is available the National Crime Prevention Council reports. Watch groups are one way to have many eyes looking for unusual activity in the neighborhood.

How to Set Up a Neighborhood Watch

Want to better protect your neighborhood? Start a neighborhood watch, here’s how.

Encourage a Neighborhood Watch

The more people who help, the easier setting up this group will be.

Get in Touch with Local Authorities

Schedule a meeting with local law enforcement agencies. Let them know you want to start a neighborhood watch group. Many law enforcement agencies have programs you can access for information and material. Police are happy to work with community watch groups. It helps them with their jobs, as well as educates the community on what the police do to keep them safe.

Meet with the Community and Create an Action Plan

Set up several community meetings to discuss concerns. Identify potential issues people would like to address. These could include:

  • Home break-ins
  • Loitering
  • Trespassing
  • Graffiti
  • Street muggings
  • Car break-ins and thefts

Once you have a list of neighborhood concerns, meet with law enforcement again, and ask for help addressing each one. The agencies may already have programs in place the community can tap into.

Hold Regular Meetings to Keep the Neighborhood Informed

Schedule a meeting every month or two to talk about what has been going on in the neighborhood. A meeting lets people see each other, so they’ll recognize neighbors when they see them on the street. This is also the time to ask for volunteers and give status updates on projects people are working on. You can also circulate home security information in case anyone is interested. A service such as can help your neighborhood make contact with various companies.

Set Up a Phone and Mailing List

One of the biggest benefits of a neighborhood watch is keeping people informed when unusual activity is in the area. An email mailing list can let people know what has recently happened in the neighborhood. A phone list can be used to call people when there is suspicious activity. Get the police involved with this, so neighbors can know what activities trigger a call to the police versus a homeowner, and in what order.

The Los Angeles Police Department Neighborhood Watch Program suggests designating a block captain to act as a liaison between the community and local law enforcement. Once the watch group gets started, the block captain can pass concerns to the police, as well as tips and status reports back to the community.

Neighborhood watch groups can be created anywhere. A housing subdivision, two or three city blocks, and a single residential street can have their own watch areas. The watch could even be set up in an apartment complex or condo development. Wherever you can organize a group of residents interested in watching out for each other, you can create a watch group.

Have you participated in a neighborhood watch program? Share tips in the comments.

Photo by Flickr user Rémi Kaupp

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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