A Neighborhood Watch Primer
Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Town Watch, Building 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.
Why Neighborhood Watch?
- It works. Throughout the country, dramatic decreases in burglary
and related offenses are reported by law enforcement professionals
in communities with active Watch programs.
- Today's transient society produces communities that are
less personal. Many families have two working parents and children
involved in many activities that keep them away from home. An
empty house in a neighborhood where none of the neighbors know
the owner is a prime target for burglary.
- Neighborhood Watch also helps build pride and serves as a springboard
for efforts that address other community concerns such as recreation
for youth, child care, and affordable housing.
How does a Neighborhood Watch start?
A motivated individual, a few concerned residents, a community
organization, or a law enforcement agency can spearhead the efforts
to establish a Watch. Together they:
- Organize a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss
needs, the level of interest, and possible community problems.
- Contact the local police or sheriffs' department, or local
crime prevention organization, for help in training members in
home security and reporting skills and for information on local
- Hold an initial meeting to gauge neighbors interest; establish
the purpose of the program; and begin to identify issues that
need to be addressed.
- Select a coordinator.
- Ask for block captain volunteers who are responsible for relaying
information to members.
- Recruit members, keeping up-to-date information on new residents
and making special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents,
and young people.
- Work with local government or law enforcement to put up Neighborhood
Watch signs, usually after at least 50 percent of all households
Who can be involved?
Any community resident can join - young and old, single and married,
renter and homeowner. Even the busiest of people can belong to a Neighborhood
Watch -they too can keep an eye out for neighbors as they come and go.
I live in an apartment building. Can I start a Neighborhood Watch?
Yes,Watch Groups can be formed around any geographical unit: a
block, apartment building, townhouse complex, park, business area,
public housing complex, office building, or marina.
What does a Neighborhood Watch do?
- A Neighborhood Watch is neighbors helping neighbors. They are
extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors.
- Members meet their neighbors, 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
- Mark valuable property with an identifying number (Operation
I.D.) to discourage theft and help law enforcement agencies identify
and return stolen property.
What are the major components of a Watch Program?
- Meetings. These should be set up on a regular basis such as
bi-monthly, monthly, or six times a year.
- Citizens' or community patrol. A citizens' patrol
is made up of volunteers who walk or drive through the community
and alert police to crime and questionable activities. Not all
neighborhood watches need a citizens' patrol.
- Communications. These can be as simple as a weekly flier posted
on community announcement boards to a monthly newsletter that
updates neighbors on the progress of the program to a neighborhood
electronic bulletin board.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council