INFORMATION FOR APARTMENT AND CONDO RESIDENTS
Community Crime Watch (or Block Watch – Apartment or Condo Watch) is a national program that is based on the principle that neighbors working together are the first and best line of defense against crime.
Community Watch really just organizes and extends what you are probably already doing on an informal basis. We tend to know and watch out for our closest neighbors, but a group of neighbors at one end of the building or on another floor may not know the group of neighbors in another part of the building. Organizing an Apartment Watch or Condo Watch for your building makes this attitude of watchfulness more systematic, and provides a map with neighbors' names, telephone numbers and emails that can be used in case of an emergency.
Community Watch is simple to begin, and can improve the security of your building while increasing your sense of community. It doesn't require you to perform any special tasks, go to a lot of meetings, or take on extra responsibilities. You don't have to patrol the neighborhood, or tell your neighbors every aspect of your business. Community Watch just involves being alert as a part of your everyday life.
All it requires is that you and your neighbors be familiar enough with each other to know who belongs in the building and who doesn't, which cars are a part of your community and which aren't, and to recognize when something suspicious is going on and being a little more observant of changes in your surroundings.
COMMUNITY CRIME WATCH REQUIRES TWO BASIC COMMITMENTS
- A commitment to be concerned about your neighbor's property as well as your own.
- A commitment that when you see suspicious activity, you will take action by calling your neighbor or 9-1-1.
It’s as simple as that, but very effective. Independent studies have shown that an active crime prevention program, which includes Community Crime Watch, can reduce the likelihood of residential burglary by up to 60%.
The biggest difficulty in getting a Community Crime Watch going is taking the first step; inviting your adjacent neighbors over to your home for coffee and begin the information exchange. You'll be amazed how the process runs on automatic from there. From there, Community Crime Watch is easy:
- Get to know all your adjacent neighbors and communicate often
- Agree to watch out for each other
- Pay attention to what is going on around the building, the community. If you see people or vehicles in the building or on the grounds that you don’t recognize, and/or you notice behaviors that seem out of place, tell someone; tell each other, tell building or property management. If the behavior is suspicious or criminal in nature, do not hesitate to call 911 and tell police.
- Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality. Simply acknowledging people you see - whether you know them or not - sends the message that you as a community are paying attention to your environment.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR CRIME WATCH PROGRAM
- Report all emergencies or suspicious activities to 9-1-1 immediately.
- Call your Apartment Watch or Condo Watch Captain or Floor Captain after you have reported to 9-1-1 when you have been burglarized, or notice any suspicious activity.
- Welcome new neighbors and invite them to join the Crime Watch.
- Periodically look out the window and respond to any suspicious activity, strangers or noises by calling 9-1-1.
- Take your turn as Watch Captain or Co-Captain. You can also volunteer to host your annual get-together.
We encourage Crime Watch members to get together at least once a year, on a formal or informal basis, to maintain acquaintance, update the block map, select a new Watch Captain if necessary, and to get to know the new neighbors in the building.
BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
- Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of you and the three directly across from you. Invite them into your home, communicate often, and establish trust.
- Good neighbors will watch out for your home or apartment when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to the police or to you while you are away.
When you and your neighbors do this, they take ownership and responsibility for what occurs on your mini-community. This concept works in both single-family homes communities and on apartment or condominium properties. This practice has been proven to deter burglaries and other crimes.
ANNUAL NIGHT OUT
Night Out is an annual event, held on the first Tuesday in August, where neighborhoods show their active involvement in Community Crime Watch and Crime Prevention by turning on their porch lights early in the evening, getting together as a building, block or neighborhood, and possibly even have a party. Several groups have had block-wide potlucks, barbecues and, quite literally, block parties. This is a fun way to keep the block going and meet your new neighbors at the same time.
For more information on Apartment or Condominium security and organizing crime watch programs in these communities, please contact the crime Prevention Coordinator for your area .