Archived Story

Neighbors looking out for neighbors

Published 8:57pm Monday, May 19, 2014

In the late 1960s an American movement started, that of the neighborhood watch. The first one of its type was organized in Queens, New York, after the rape and murder of a 28-year-old woman, a incident during which over a dozen witnesses did nothing to save the woman’s life. In the 1970s, the National Sheriff’s Association picked up the fledgling idea and promoted it nationwide.

Eastern North Carolina residents were no exception to the need for neighbors to be a more vigilant when it comes to prevented crime. Many citizens jumped on board and Community Watch signs went up in neighborhoods across the region. Over the years, many of the associations became inactive. However, lately we’ve seen a recent increase in interest in community-based crime prevention, as two neighborhoods have revived programs.

The Moss Landing Homeowners Association became the most recent addition to the community watch movement — its sign went up last week. The one before that was in February, when the White Oak neighborhood, off of 15th Street in Washington, decided to band together. According to one of the White Oak organizers, neighbors took that step after one resident witnessed the break-in of a home, the owners of which were out of town. This particular White Oak resident waited until the suspect got into the house to call police. As a result, the criminal was caught inside the house and arrested.

In the days, weeks, months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a phrase kept popping up: “If you see something, say something.” That’s essentially what a neighborhood watch is: making a phone call to the watch director, rather than turning a blind eye to suspicious activity. With the recent rash of car and home break-ins a few months ago, residents are recognizing the benefit of a community watch.

Instead of standing by idly while a car drives by a home, “casing” it, residents in the two neighborhoods listed above are pledging to make a phone call. They are pledging to protect their neighbors and their neighbors’ property, just as they know their neighbors will be looking out for them.

The first step in crime prevention is making sure that would-be criminals don’t have easy access to personal property. But the next step is being that person who, when you “see something,” you “say something.”

Consider teaming up with your neighbors and reviving a community watch in your neighborhood. It’s part of what being neighborly is all about.


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