The Neighborhood Watch Concept
Crime WatchCitizen participation is one of the most effective tools against crime because the job of stopping burglary, robbery, or sexual assault is impossible for the Sheriffs Office to accomplish alone. Neighborhood crime watchers are networks of neighbors trained by crime prevention officers in home and self-protection, suspect identification and how to serve effectively as additional eyes and ears for law enforcement agencies in their communities.
Neighborhood Watch Groups provide a way for neighbors to help one another by keeping an eye on each otherís homes and property. A telephone chain is set up to enable neighbors to keep one another informed of any criminal activity and to receive information from the Sheriffs Office crime prevention unit concerning descriptions of suspected criminals and other pertinent information.
Meetings are held on a monthly basis in the areas that are active in Neighborhood crime watch. Once certified the crime watch area is announced and the crime watch sign is posted. Presentations consist of many personal and property protection issues.
Simply put neighborhood crime watch is a program of neighbors watching out for neighbors. It is thousands of eyes and ears whose owners have organized together in groups to report suspicious activities or crimes to the Sheriffs Office. The one who reports such activities can remain anonymous.
You, the concerned citizen, can see your neighborís house across the street and the one on either side of your house. If you see something unusual happening, report it to the Sheriffs Office immediately. If it is an actual crime in progress, call 9-1-1; if it is suspicious activity, call the administrative number for the Sheriffs Office. Either way you will receive prompt action.
How Does It Help?
Sheriffís Deputies cannot be everywhere all of the time. Besides, even if they happen to be passing by, they cannot recognize that a car, a truck, or people do not belong in an area. However, those who live in a community will know if there are strangers in the area.
Neighborhood Watch programs are of great help to our Sheriffís Office. There have been many instances where good neighbors, by reporting unusual activities, have been instrumental in the apprehension of criminals.
How Does It Work?
Neighborhood Watch works through mutual aid, neighbors watching out for neighbors. Neighbors know who you are, what type of car you drive and may be the first to notice a burglar at your window or door, or a strange car in your driveway. But remember, each neighbor can effectively watch only homes to each side, the front and the back of their home.
- Never shop or conduct bank business on the 1st or the 15th of the month. Talk with your bank about direct deposit service for your paychecks, Social Security checks or other income.
- Never carry large sums of money, jewelry or valuables.
- Never drive through unfamiliar neighborhoods or on dark streets. If you are lost, drive to the nearest well-lit public place and ask for directions.
- Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.
- Never leave your keys in an unattended automobile.
- Never drive with your car doors unlocked.
- Never leave packages in your vehicle where they are visible. Instead lock them in the trunk. If you have an SUV cover them with a blanket.
- Never leave your credit cards in the glove box.
- Never become a creature of habit. Vary your route and schedule when shopping and conducting personal business.
- Never carry important papers with you on outings. These papers may contain vital information.
- Never go on an elevator by yourself with a stranger. If you must, stand by the control panel and stop on every floor so it can not be determined which floor you will exit.
- Always Travel with a companion.
- Always use credit/debit cards in place of cash.
- Always keep a safe distance from drivers who stop to ask for directions. Remain a few feet from the vehicle to keep you out of the personís reach.
- Always have your keys in your hand when approaching your vehicle. Also check the backseat of your vehicle before entering the vehicle.
- Always pay attention to what is going on around you. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes in case you need to flee a dangerous situation.
- Always check your surroundings before venturing into parking lots or other unfamiliar areas. If you do observe something suspicious, remain indoors and report it immediately to security or law enforcement.
- Always be cautious when approached by a stranger.
Tips for Securing Your Home
Establish the "3-D's" of Protection
- Deterrents - Install sturdy doors, locks and good outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting is one of the best deterrents to residential burglary.
- Delay - Stop burglars in their tracks. Burglars seek homes that will provide quick, easy entry. Even a slight delay will often send them looking for an easier target.
- Detection - there are many cost effective ways to detect intruders. A barking dog, alarm system and a neighborhood watch group are among the most reliable methods for catching intruders.
Home Security Checklist
- Illuminate all entrances with outdoor lighting.
- Trim landscaping to eliminate hiding places near windows and doors.
- Lock all entrances, including the garage door, at all times.
- Install a 180-degree peephole in your exterior doors.
- Secure windows and sliding glass doors with auxiliary locking devices or have a door pin installed (use caution when installing door pin, you could break the door or window glass)
- Use deadbolts on all exterior doors. Insure that the locks have a minimum of a 1-inch throw. Also if there is glass within 40-inches of the lock, it is recommended that you use a double cylinder lock.
- Never hide a key outside. Burglars know to check under doormats and planters.
- Call the Okeechobee County Sheriffís Office for a FREE home security inspection. The Okeechobee County Sheriffís office offers many crime prevention programs, for local businesses, civic and neighborhood groups. For more information call (863) 763-6064
Secure your home before Vacation trips.
- Make your home look occupied by using inexpensive timers that turn lights off or on at various times.
- Ask a trusted neighbor or relative to collect your mail and newspapers daily. Or have the service put on hold.
- Close and lock your garage door. A padlock can be added to the track inside for extra protection. Also, remember to disconnect the automatic opener.
- Do not close all drapes or blinds. This is a dead giveaway that the house is vacant.
- Notify the Okeechobee County Sheriffís office, at (863) 763-3117, of the dates you will be gone and request to be placed on the list for the FREE Vacation house Watch Program.
Operation IDOperation Identification is a simple, inexpensive crime prevention technique that has proven its effectiveness in cities across America. Based upon the idea that marked items are more difficult, (If not impossible), to dispose of, Operation Identification discourages burglars from stealing your marked valuables.
This is how it works: Using an engraving tool, tag all of your household items (i.e. television, VCR, home computer, microwave and other large items that can be removed from the residence) with any number that you can remember.
Then make a written list or inventory of your items, take pictures or video the items. Store the list and Photo/video in a safe place.