The skinny on crime prevention

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 3, 2007

Recently, there have been a few letters to the editor concerning neighborhood watch, urging neighborhoods to join in on the fight against crime.

However, these articles have done little to nothing to explain exactly what neighborhood watch is, and how we as citizens can help prevent a crime or help the police catch a criminal.

First of all, there are three elements to every crime: think of a triangle. Each corner represents an element: ability to commit a crime, desire to commit a crime and opportunity to commit a crime.

When we remove any one of the three elements, a crime cannot occur. This is called crime prevention.

The ultimate goal of crime prevention is really the key to neighborhood watch.

If every person does whatever it takes to remove an element, there would be less crime to have to report, live with in our neighborhoods, have our children subjected to, etc.

So how do we remove elements? The goal is to reduce victimization while raising the risk of the criminal being caught. For example, criminals hate light. So keep your front/back porch lights on all night every night.

Lock your doors and windows. Pin the windows if you have to. Cut down all bushes from around house and from in front of windows, criminals love to be hidden from view.

Do not leave ladders, bricks, gardening tools, and other &uot;weapons&uot; lying around the yard.

Everyone can individually help to reduce crime.

Now what about neighborhood watch? It is a very simple program that neighbors can work together or separately on.

Whenever possible, there is a four house rule. Watch the neighbors to your left, right, back and front.

If you know your neighbor is away on vacation and you see a moving truck in the driveway, call the police. It is probably not supposed to be there.

Anytime you feel you are witnessing a crime, call the police.

You do not have to give your name, but it would be very helpful if the police can get details from you personally. Request to meet the police somewhere other than your home if you are afraid of retaliation.

When calling in a crime, get as much information written down as possible. The vehicle make, model, color, license number, two door or four door. How many people involved? Are they white, black, Hispanic? Male or female? Height, weight, hairstyle, clothing.

Do you know them, have you seen them in the area lately but they don’t belong to your neighborhood? Did they arrive on foot? Which direction did they come from? Which direction are they now headed in? Were there weapons of any kind?

As we have seen lately, anyone can be a victim of a crime, even if they weren’t the intended victims.

Don’t let it happen to you. Together, we can make a difference.

Roxanne Czewski lives in Franklin. She is a crime prevention specialist.