I’m the email contact point for our unofficial neighborhood watch, and no one has let me know of an alleged recent break in right on my street. Our pest control technician mentioned that he heard on his police scanner about a home break in on our street last week, yet I’d never have known if he had not told me. I wish we had a police crime list printed in the local paper, or on a police web site as I’ve seen in some areas, but no such luck here. What’s concerning is the lack of involvement of so many neighbors. They live in la-la land, happily uninvolved and unconcerned – until they get hit! Then they want immediate safety and protection.
That’s what started our unofficial group a couple of years ago – a sudden string of burglaries and other incidents in a previously very safe, quiet neighborhood. One neighbor organized a big meeting at a nearby church, and a member of law enforcement came out to explain how Neighborhood Watch works. In order to get active cooperation from law enforcement, a certain percentage of the residents in a given area must participate. We weren’t up to that level, but everyone left very motivated to recruit their neighbors. I volunteered to be the email list coordinator, and new “members” were sent to me regularly – at first. All that attended the meeting got a great booklet with all kinds of helpful information about self-protection (including home lighting, how to report, what to report, etc.). I sent out alerts whenever the was a new incident, and we became aware of two particular vehicles (no one could get license numbers however), and one particular named addict that was going around asking for work and then stealing, etc. Great start!!! I sent out additional emails with more tips on protection, alarm systems, lighting tips, properly locking double driveway gates that are easily bypassed by pulling up the vertical bar that goes into the ground, etc. People were excited. The streets became better and better lit up in front by security lights. Sides of houses were no longer dark for anyone to go between houses and access the backs of the houses, etc.
And a year went by, one group of criminals was taken off the streets, and crime went down. And the lights gradually started being left off at night (an open invitation to criminals, saying to them, “We aren’t an aware, active community here. Hit us!” Reminder emails have brought a few lights back on – for a while. And now we’ve had a break in and no one has even reported it. We never did meet the threshold to become an official Neighborhood Watch community to gain more active law enforcement support.
Apathy/ignorance is a dangerous thing. But it also tells me who I can count on (which isn’t very many) in our area, when the SHTF. It’s been very instructive (and sad). It has also pointed out more significantly, just how valuable this Forum is. As was pointed out in another thread, the awareness it brings can either produce paranoia, or it can bring peace and preparedness. I choose peace and preparedness. I can’t control everything, and we may in fact get “hit” at some point. But at least we’re better prepared if we do, and we’ve minimized the likelihood of OUR house being seen as a good target, compared to the dark, unprotected houses in the area. Some of us will be left alone more than others. And if the really “big one” hits (society disruption and chaos), I have a better idea of the very few I can likely count on as allies.