Be a good neighbor

Published 10:31 am Friday, December 20, 2013

A couple of months back, Frank Davis told me a story about witnessing a burglary in broad daylight and not realizing that was what it was.

He was driving by a neighbor’s house and saw a strange car there. Later on, when Mr. Davis heard from that neighbor that he’d been robbed, he was devastated. He’d driven by, looked at the strange car, and had his camera on hand and could have easily taken a picture of the license plate. From that moment on, Mr. Davis was committed to being a better neighbor.

Not long after telling me that story, his neighborhood had sponsored a National Night Out event to let the neighbors get to know each other better, and also the police officers. His Neighborhood Watch group had also pulled together to get more signage up in the area.

Which brings me to my point. After taking pictures at the Southampton Vs. Sussex Central basketball game, I went out in Courtland to take pictures of Christmas Lights for the newspaper. I’m pointing out that I went to a basketball game to suggest the time I was out — after 9 p.m.

I was wearing a black New Orleans Saints hoody, of course I had some above-average camera equipment, and I was scoping out homes. I obviously didn’t completely think through what I was doing, and I’m sure I had to have looked suspicious to anyone driving by.

I would like to point out that while I was out in Shands neighborhood near Southampton Academy, two men in SUVs did stop to ask me what I was doing. At the time, I didn’t get a chance to thank them for doing that. But I would definitely like to thank them for being good neighbors. If I lived in that neighborhood, I’d want a neighbor to question strange people in strange vehicles out at strange times with camera equipment.

Now, I’d also like to point out that the Shands neighborhood was not the only one I stopped in to take pictures. No one in the other neighborhoods stopped to ask questions or even slowed down.

During this time period, which was more than an hour, I saw one Southampton County sheriff’s deputy car. It was on Main Street, when I was still in my car driving down the street, so there was no need to question me.

After months of typing up crime reports, and seeing a common trend in them, B&E-Burglary, and knowing that law enforcement cannot be everywhere, I feel like there needs to be more people out there like Frank Davis.

That’s because months of typing up crime stories gives me some important data to that theory. Most of the time, when the burglar gets caught, it’s because a neighbor saw some suspicious activity, or heard a suspicious noise and called law enforcement.

So, Western Tidewater, I believe we need more neighborhoods like Shands, where people are watching out for one another. We also need more Neighborhood Watch groups — it’s the only way to protect your neighborhood.

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at 562-3187 or by email at