Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Great way to bring up your property values and reduce crime in your neighborhood! Read this article.

I just read this great article on Starting a Neighborhood Watch in your area! I get this question all the time, and when I hear complaints about neighbors causing problems, I always suggest this. Also, at no charge to you, you can call your County Sherrif's office and ask them to do extra patrols on your street or in your road if you are worried about theft or any other type of crime.
Article provided by Houselogic.com
It’s all hands on deck to prevent crime, so you need your neighbors’ help to start a neighborhood watch program. But unless your neighborhood has enough crime to get everyone eager to do something about it, you may get only shrugs instead of support when you talk about forming a neighborhood watch.

Convince your neighbors to join by letting them know that property crimes—burglary, vandalism, and auto theft—make up 78% of criminal behavior in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Justice. To help combat these crimes, law enforcement supports neighborhood or block watches, organized groups of residents united against crime in their area.

If your neighbors are chummy, forming a group can be as easy as setting up a meeting with local law enforcement and letting everyone know what time to come. If not, put some knuckle power to work and go door-to-door talking about a neighborhood watch.

Here are three tips to recruit watchers:

1. Recruit with facts
Gather information about crime in your community from the police, your home owners or condo association manager, and residents. That way, if your neighborhood has experienced incidents while others nearby are relatively crime-free, you can ask prospective watchers where they think buyers will want to live.

Sources like CrimeReports and the police officer assigned to your neighborhood watch will tell you:

Which crimes are common?
When and where did they happen?
Are there patterns?
If your neighborhood includes stores and other businesses, owners and managers can provide valuable information about what goes on in the area around their store during the hours they’re open.

2. Ease fears
Residents who join your neighborhood watch won’t carry guns, and they don’t have to attend formal training. It’s not undercover work, so they won’t be hiding in the bushes in the dark. All members really need to do is be extra vigilant for suspicious incidents and report them to the police.

The police representative who comes to your first neighborhood watch meeting will explain what neighborhood watchers need to do.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of advice online about how to form a neighborhood watch from the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Crime Prevention Council.

3. Assure them it won’t take much time
Promise neighbors that the time commitment is minimal. They don’t have to walk the beat; they just need to keep their eyes and ears open and meet to discuss issues and problems maybe twice a year.

As a watch organizer, you can figure spending 10 hours a week for the first month, canvassing for members among residents, schools, houses of worship, and businesses.

Once you’ve recruited your watch, you’ll spend much less time managing it. Your routine monthly tasks:

Maintaining the membership’s contact information in a database
Passing along phone-tree messages
Communicating information through a channel like Google Groups
If you want to have a website, NeighborhoodLink.com provides free templates for watch groups.

Done recruiting? Tell the bad guys you’ve got your eye on them by posting signs, deterrent decals and other crime-fighting warnings. Get them from the National Neighborhood Watch Institute, which sells a street sign, decals, and a program manual in its $48.95 starter kit.

John Morell has been covering home repair, home design, and real estate as a writer and editor for nearly 25 years, for such publications as HGTV.com, Log Home Living, and The Los Angeles Times. He’s also a longtime officer on his home owners association and a former member of the neighborhood council in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/start-a-neighborhood-watch/#ixzz15UIWD100

Will a neighborhood watch lower the crime rate in your neighborhood? Social scientists studying the effectiveness of the programs aren’t sure, but they think it’s likely it will.

Some studies report a reduction in crime after a watch starts, while others found an increase, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DOJ report looked at 18 studies from the United States and the United Kingdom. The studies paired neighborhood watch areas with similar neighborhoods that had no neighborhood watch. In 15 of the 18 areas, crime fell in the area with the watch. In three areas, crime increased despite the neighborhood watch.

None of the studies was perfect. Some of the watch programs did other projects that might also have helped lower crime rates, like engraving owner information on valuables or working with neighbors to improve the security of their homes.

If your program does reduce crime, you’ll win in two ways:

1. Your insurance rates could go down. Property insurance is all about risk. The higher the risk, the more you pay for insurance. Crime isn’t the only factor affecting your rates, but it plays a role. The more claims insurance companies have to pay crime victims in your neighborhood, the more they charge you for insurance premiums.

If a neighborhood watch group helps lower crime and that leads to fewer insurance claims, insurers will eventually adjust premiums, says Mike Barry, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.

2. Your property values could rise. Who doesn’t want to live in a safe neighborhood? Like insurance rates, home values are affected by more than just crime. But having a neighborhood watch certainly won’t hurt your values.

A strong-knit community means people care, and that improves a neighborhood’s atmosphere, which can increase property values, says Robbi Woodson, neighborhood watch program manager for the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Look at it this way: Thousands of communities nationwide wouldn’t have started neighborhood watches if the program caused values to drop, she says.

John Morell has been covering home repair, home design, and real estate as a writer and editor for nearly 25 years, for such publications as HGTV.com, Log Home Living, and The Los Angeles Times. He’s also a long-time officer on his homeowners association and a former member of the neighborhood council in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/do-neighborhood-watch-groups-cut-crime-and-insurance-costs/#ixzz15UIfMOMq

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