Thieves have been targeting homes throughout Cleveland County, despite neighborhood watch signs posted in some areas. Undersheriff Rhett Barnett says it is truly the neighbors, however, who can make a difference.
In today’s age, surveillance cameras are often the eyes of a neighborhood, capturing video of thieves and other criminals looking for an easy target. Before the age of technology, there was usually a person keeping an eye on comings and goings, and reporting those who did not belong in the neighborhood.
Barnett tells News 9 that communication has gotten lost.
“If we all just go inside our residences and pull down the shades and don’t look out,” said Barnett, “then we've lost the ability to catch something going on before it occurs.”
Many sheriff's offices and police departments can come into communities to teach neighbors how to be more effective, looking for open garage doors that may leave a homeowner vulnerable as well as speaking to each other to learn common routines.
Chuck Lucas is the kind of neighbor you want to have around. A retired police officer, he says he is always on the lookout for anything suspicious.
“I do watch everything coming in and going out since I’m the corner house,” Lucas said, “and we've actually had a very safe community as far as I can tell.”
Barnett says if more people could get back to this type of neighborly awareness, crime rates would drop drastically.
“We encourage people not to be nosy and in each other’s business, but we encourage them to be aware and vigilant and look to see,” said Barnett. “If they see something that doesn't look right, it’s probably not.”
To learn more about forming a group in your neighborhood, contact your local law enforcement agency.