You will note that as the network expands, it will appear that crime increases around you, in a seemingly worrying way, but in reality it does not, you just become much more aware of things that are and always have been happening around you. It’s like having an instant newspaper for your own estate, with its own little notification method so you see it in real time, rather than two days later in the Coventry Evening Telegraph. This does scare some people and I have seen numerous posts on various site where the writer cannot grasp that their previous ignorance to crime around them actually allowed it to flourish unseen! Thats a bit like ignoring the weeds in your garden and then wondering where you pretty flowers have all gone!
As your network grows and communication becomes more accurate and discerning, you will start to see your efforts begin to start paying off. Good inter-communication will begin to allow you all as a community to collate information and you will learn that a lot of problems begin to become visible as the result of certain character’s anti-social or criminal behaviour, houses or gathering areas like car parks etc. Then as a community you can begin to see patterns of behaviour, through information shared from things your neighbours have witnessed or heard and then you can request members review unseen CCTV footage between deduced time periods. You can then accurately gather and effectively pass on good information such as times, photographs off CCTV, index numbers to your local Community Police Officers, who will love you, as it makes their job so much easier. Information will come to you that would not be happily given to the authorities!
In one case a house robbery was basically ignored by police until we ascertained from CCTV footage from different 3 sources, that the attempted offence was by an organised gang of 5 males with 2 vehicles in support , one dropping off two two young watchers in hoodies on back roads who were then patrolling up and down our section of the street. The second car had a getaway driver with ( we presume) a professional burglar as passenger, dressed all in black, who walked up to the owners door and knocked it to ensure the house was empty to burgle again for the husbands Mercedes car keys. The house was occupied and they made their quick escape after asking if the wife “needed a window cleaner?”. Time spen pouring over 2 hours of footage showed up driving patterns of the same vehicles, identification of the vehicles and passengers who were picked up and dropped off to circulate around the area for 2 hours at midday, on that Saturday (yes, midday Saturday) and also supplied partial registration numbers and very clear photographs of at least 3 offenders. This revealed an organised car theft gang and a proper C.I.D. investigation was initiated. A result! We also broadcast those pictures. Why not, it helps everybody identify those low-lifes, right across Coventry.
THE POLICE LOVE PEOPLE WHO HELP THEM:
In response to you setting up your own organised security network , your local officers will then want to interact with you, meet your local residents and introduce them to Neigbourhood Watch and WMNOW information services. They will respond to your intel quickly and give as much feed-back as their position allows. We have even had information regarding access to Police funding awards from certain schemes to help develop community and youth projects etc!
Word will spread and anti-social behaviour will diminish as will criminal behaviour as residents will feel empowered enough to know others are watching if they choose to challenge offenders.
We do not encourage or condone vigilante behaviour, and a dead hero is no use to anybody, but imagine if you were sitting in a car watching a house and someone walks up and asks what you are doing, points out CCTV cameras and tells you your registration number is now on record. I think you would be keen to move on even if innocent. We all hate that ‘been watched’ feeling, it becomes uncomfortable very quickly.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS:
We do now have a strong enough network that if someone seriously asks for help, someone will come, even from across the other side of the estate if they have to. I have personally gone to single / vulnerable neighbours and given them security advice, helped fit up security devices and given them my personal phone number. You could do that! When neighbours go on holiday, we know that at least 3 near neighbours (probably the whole road) will watch their homes for them and at Christmas neighbours were retrieving badly placed courier parcels from neighbours doors and messaging that they had them and were safe. You can have this in your street too………. if you are willing to just do your little bit.
That’s it folks ! The secret is pick up your phone, make a group, invite people into it (you may have to show the elderly / uninitiated) how to do your bit, make your neighbourhood safe by taking an interest in it. Be aware and don’t be afraid to say to a ‘lurker’ : “Hello, can I help you? You’ve been hanging around for a while.” I did once have to walk down my garden path and be less subtle to a character taking a great interest in my next door neighbours BMW. I gave the impression I was talking on the phone, but was live broadcasting to the network his description and exact position in the road. After 25 minutes of him trying to be unobtrusive I decided the internationally recognised silhoutte of the baseball bat was required and fetched my car lock out (see car security article or eBay). This produced a panic, a phone call and a fast exit via a run down the road to getaway car. People on the network were posting the could hear the car screaming off the estate. You may have seen his picture online. I really hope you have. He may be coming to an area near you!