Guide for Keeping Your Neighborhood Safe For Your Family
We are living in uncertain times and the days of leaving your doors unlocked and inviting neighbors in without a thought are gone. As populations have grown, so has concern over neighbor-hood safety. Rest assured there are things you can do to ensure the safety of you and your family and help keep your entire neighborhood safe and sound.
Basic Common Sense
Although evident, some of the first things to remember to keep your family safe are:
- Lock all your doors and windows at night before bed.
- Have a curfew for minors and make sure they honor it.
- Never leave a spare key under the welcome mat or in another outside location where thieves could find it.
- Install outdoor lights to illuminate all area around your house.
- Put lights on a timer, so they come on automatically even when you are not home, making the house appear occupied.
Less Common Safety Measures
Here are some additional precautions you can take to secure your home and neighborhood:
- Install a security system that attaches to all windows and doors and requires a code to unlock. These networks connect automatically to emergency services if you do not answer when they call or do not provide the correct password.
- Install outside security cameras so you can monitor your entire property.
- Use high security, grade 1 locks (keys cannot be duplicated by anyone but you), on all doors.
- Use good quality deadbolts on all doors and avoid doors with glass, which can be broken to gain entry.
- Don't forget your garage door. Many garage door openers can be spoofed and your door opened by anyone with the correct signal. Be sure to have an entry door with a deadbolt between you and your garage.
- Patio and sliders should be locked using a unique “locking pin” to keep out intruders.
- Keep a list of all the people with copies of your house keys. Don't ever give one to a handyman or someone working at your home temporarily.
Set up a neighborhood watch program with the neighbors you trust and know well. Working with law enforcement, Citizens on Patrol (COP) systems work well and help to extend the reach of the local police department by being their “eyes and ears” for a crime. Statistics show that neighbor-hood watch programs significantly reduce crime in areas where they are employed. Many local police departments offer neighborhood watch training and support.
Report any strange vehicles parked in your neighborhood repeatedly without good cause (not working on someone's home) or other suspicious or illegal activity that you witness. Do not try and apprehend or question the offender, just report it to the authorities.
Ask trustworthy neighbors that rarely leave home to be “window watchers” to keep an eye on children playing or watch out for any unusual activity in the neighborhood.
Keep Things Clean
Keep your neighborhood clean. Gather the neighbors together to fix up abandoned houses or areas in disrepair, and keep them tidy. Unused or abandoned buildings can be a magnet for crime. Help to beautify all areas of your neighborhood making it unattractive to any criminal elements.
Join neighborhood communities like tenant associations, community development agencies and other city or town divisions devoted to the upkeep and safety of local areas.
Keeping Kids Safe
Don't take for granted that just because your kids are playing in the neighborhood, they are safe.
- Always be diligent about knowing where they will be, ask for a phone number or other parent's name before kids leave the house. Use technology to your advantage and have your child check in with a text, or use location apps to monitor their whereabouts.
- Make sure kids know their home phone number and physical street address.
- Set “off-limit” areas in the neighborhood and make sure kids respect these boundaries.
- Know your children's friends and their parents.
- Provide your child with a “safe house” in your neighborhood where they can go in the event of an emergency.
Taking It Further
Even though the world is a much bigger place than ever before, it is not impossible to get to know your neighbors. Make a point to meet, greet and be friendly with all your surrounding neighbors. You may need them one day and they, you.
Additionally, there are tons of public records online where you can do searches to find out in-depth information about anyone using websites such as recordsfinder.com. You can search for anyone in the United States and find out things like:
- Vital Records - Birth, death, marriage, and divorce information.
- Criminal Records - arrests, warrants, police reports, felonies, misdemeanors, conditions, incarcerations, probation, parole and more.
- Public Records - bankruptcies, legal judgments, lawsuits, tax issues, contract and probate concerns, family law issues, small claims, and evictions.
- Driving Records- find out if your neighbors have had any DUI's, speeding tickets, traffic violations, license suspensions or accidents.
- Sex Offender Database - find out if anyone living near you is a danger to your kids. If you find you are living in a neighborhood with a sex offender, inform your kids what house(s) to stay away from and not to talk to strangers they don't know or get into cars with anyone except friends or family.
It's not easy to trust people these days, and everyone has secrets. Tools like this help you feel more comfortable living with your neighbors knowing you and your family are safe. Armed with this information, you can make smart choices about who you and your children spend time with. You can feel safer just knowing who you can trust. For a small fee, it is priceless to have that peace of mind. You can even lookup people by their email, phone and license plates.
The National Crime Prevention Council put together a helpful website with dozens of articles on how you and your neighbors can work together with local agencies to improve the safety and security of your area.