Crime can happen to anyone at any time—in fact, the 2016 Crime in the United States Report, from the FBI, found that there 327, 374 robberies in 2015 and total property crimes resulted in $14.3 billion in losses.
These numbers don’t guarantee you’ll be the victim of a crime in your life, but as a homeowner, keeping yourself and your family safe is always a top priority. When your neighborhood bands together as a community, you’re stronger and less vulnerable, both individually and as a group.
Reducing crime is on everyone’s mind, so get your community together to discuss these five simple ways to boost neighborhood safety.
1. Form a Facebook Group
One of the easiest ways to get information and updates from the people who live around you is to create a private Facebook group. With the popularity of Facebook, you can almost guarantee that one member of every household will have access to it.
When you move into the neighborhood, ask your next-door neighbors if a group already exists and get an invitation to join. Since you’ll need to go out and find someone to ask, this is a great way to introduce yourself to new neighbors as well.
If your community doesn’t have a group yet, start one yourself and invite everyone. Remember to keep it private, so its inaccessible to anyone who isn’t invited or accepted as a member.
2. Warn People About Suspicious Activity
One of the best things you can do for your neighborhood is to report any suspicious activity to other neighbors and the police. If something looks off to you, don’t brush it off as over-thinking. Always go with your gut feeling—whether it’s a strange car parked outside your house or a neighbor’s front door wide open—don’t underestimate the importance of acting fast.
This is where your neighborhood Facebook group comes in handy, as an easy way to share information with everyone quickly.
In addition, don’t try to handle dangerous situations alone; get law enforcement involved right away. Make it a habit to notice your surroundings so you’ll recognize if something is amiss.
3. Host a Neighborhood Self Defense Course
It’s not uncommon that people brush off self-defense classes for fear of not wanting to take them alone, or insisting they’ll never need to actually use it. Encourage your neighbors to take part so you can all learn from a professional and strengthen the trust of the community.
When looking for a self-defense instructor to hire for your community workshop, consider these three details, suggests Jeremy Pollack, self-defense expert for The Home Security Super Store:
- Does the instructor have videos you can look at?
- Has a referring party been to an actual class and seen what the instructor has to offer?
- How realistic is the instructor’s self-defense style, and how much real-world training and application does the instructor have?
Use these tips to guide the process of choosing someone who will be a great fit and provide value to the group.
4. Share Tips for Security Landscaping
While most HOAs are strict about neighborhood and landscaping appearances, many neighborhood communities are not. If this is the case for your neighborhood, hold a meeting to discuss how landscaping can boost safety for everyone:
“Physical features that offer better surveillance, delineation between public and private space and proximity to well-used locations enable stronger control of spaces by law-abiding residents. Such control leads to less delinquency, less fear and less victimization,” explains the National Institute of Justice.
Here are a few examples of how landscaping can boost community security:
- Keep hedges, shrubbery, trees and large plants trimmed always— overgrown shrubbery is easy for criminals to hide in.
- Plant flowers with thorns in front of windows to keep intruders from using that as a way inside.
- Use gravel or stones for the walkway. If someone is walking up to your home in the middle of the night, you’re more likely to hear it.
5. Discuss on a Quarterly or Yearly Basis
You’ve been tracking issues in your Facebook group and talking regularly as a community. Now, take all the information you’ve shared and catalogued and structure a community discussion about safety with the SARA Model. SARA stands for Scan, Analyze, Respond, Assess, and you can use this to structure your discussion about what’s happened more than once, where you can make changes to reduce issues, and how you can improve reaction or reporting in the future.
Keeping your community safe just takes a few extra steps. Together, you’re stronger and less vulnerable, so use these tips to bring the neighborhood together and boost safety for everyone.
Written by Jessica Thiefels