Along with admonitions not to leave your spare key outside, to change your back to base alarm code regularly and to keep your trees and shrubs trimmed, another very standard piece of home security advice is to make friends with your neighbours, and to look after each other’s properties when you are home. While it is always fantastic to know and be friendly with your neighbours, a neighbourhood watch is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of home security monitoring.
What Forms Does Neighbourhood Watch Take?
Neighbourhood Watches originated as a system of ‘safe houses’ intended to provide a safe haven for kids that felt in danger at any time when they were on the streets – usually walking to and from school. They evolved into a more general safety system, where people in a neighbourhood would look out for each other, usually protecting each other from crimes. They can be formal or informal organisations; however the impact of each on your overall home security monitoring is roughly equivalent.
Neighbourhood Watch and Security Enhancement
There are plenty of wonderful ways that neighbourhood watch systems can help improve the security of your home by providing:
- Somebody to report suspicious goings-on at your home to the police when you are out
- Someone to report a non-monitored alarm triggering to the police
- Somebody to collect your mail, put your garbage bin in and out, and perhaps turn outside lights on and off when you are on holidays
- Somebody to provide a different perspective on your home security weak and strong points
- A home that you can knock on the door of, in case you surprise a burglar or are woken by one
- A house that you can tell your kids to go to, or ring, if they are concerned about their safety when you aren’t home
Neighbourhood Watch – Not a Foolproof Home Security System!
However, you need to be keenly aware of the limitations that even the most housebound and diligent neighbour has, in acting as your house alarm system! Remember that:
Other people have to leave their house as well
Whether it is to work, shop for food or visit friends and family, nobody is home ALL the time.
People may not be paying attention to your house at the right time
You’ll get a slight increase in the level of awareness surrounding your home with a neighbourhood watch system in place. However, people don’t generally spend all their time looking out their windows at your house … and would you really want them to?!
Burglars can be pretty sneaky!
One of the main prerequisites for being a burglar is being able to get into homes without being noticed. It also takes quite a bit of luck for your neighbour to spot a burglar trying to get in.
Neighbours shouldn’t put themselves in danger
If you have a non-monitored alarm system, it is not safe to assume that your neighbour will come and confront a burglar if they hear the alarm going off. A back to base alarm is a far safer system.
By all means, become a part of your local neighbourhood watch, get to know your neighbours and ask them to take your mail in when you’re away. Just remember, they can’t possibly replace a back to base alarm!