5 Tips To Keep Criminals Out of Your Neighborhood
Your perception of safety in a neighborhood is based on very subtle things, like park benches, a well-lit street, and fresh paint on buildings. These are things that might also discourage criminals from making your neighborhood their next target. Use these five tips to collaborate with your neighbors and give unwanted visitors the impression that they are unwelcome.
1) Encourage Neighborhood Improvement Projects
Work with public agencies and community associations to keep things clean and organized. Make sure the public trash cans are emptied regularly, sponsor public painting projects, plant trees, and turn vacant spaces into useable parks and gardens.
Also, report problems to the public utilities commission: graffiti, cracked windows or unclean facades of public buildings, unmaintained green spaces and recreational facilities, cracked sidewalks, and poorly maintained utilities. Showing others than the community takes pride in their neighborhood is a great crime deterrent.
2) Know Your Neighbors
You want to assume that your neighbors are trustworthy, but how well do you really know them? With basic Internet research skills, you can get the lowdown on your neighbors and community leaders. Use CheckMate.com to look up available public records, including criminal offenses, for anyone you know.
3) Have a Backup
Once you’ve checked up on your neighbors, designate a few to be your go-tos for vacations and emergencies. When you’re away for a trip, give a neighbor a spare key and ask them to monitor your home by collecting mail and newspapers, taking out the trash, and watching out for unusual activity. If it’s fall or winter, bribe them to clear the leaves and snow off your stoop while you’re gone.
4) Foster A Sense of Community
Neighbors who work and play together also watch out for each other. Organize block parties and special events to encourage goodwill and trust within your community. To facilitate a forum of communication related to neighborhood concerns, start a local newsletter or designate a central meeting spot. You can use these resources to set up neighborhood patrols, to advertise events, and to encourage participation in community-oriented activities.
5) Deter Unwanted Attention From Your Home
Some in-home measures are visual deterrents so thieves don’t even think about getting close to your abode. Remove personal belongings from your cars, and store all big-ticket items (bicycles, yard equipment, toys) in your garage. Keep your home, car, and garage locked at all times, even when you’re home.
Lighting and landscaping are also very cost-effective precautions. Set an automatic timer on lights, and keep a radio playing to give outsiders the impression that someone is home. Aim exterior lights away from the house so approaching visitors can be seen by you and your neighbors.
Walkways and landscaping should direct visitors toward main entryways and prevent access to private areas of the house. Lastly, trim shrubbery and keep yard fencing low, especially near access points like doors and windows, so that criminals don’t have any easy hiding places.
Safety in Numbers
While there are many ways to keep burglars away from your home, a cooperative effort between you and your neighbors is the most effective safeguard against criminal activity.
Based in Sacramento, CA, Melissa Palmer is a community activist and mom of three. When she's not running around with her family, she pushes for increased awareness in public safety for her local government.