By Ken J. Mascara, St. Lucie County Sheriff
In these times of economic distress, many people are concerned about the threat of rising crime in their communities. Fortunately, there are ways to help protect your home and your neighborhood from crime. From simple steps like keeping your doors locked to starting a Neighborhood Watch program, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent crime.
Work with your neighbors to keep your neighborhood clean and orderly. Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby shopkeeper, not under a doormat or planter, on a ledge, or in the mailbox.
Set timers on lights when you’re away from home or your business is closed, so they appear to be occupied. Illuminate or eliminate places an intruder might hide: the spaces between trees or shrubs, stairwells, alleys, hallways, and entry ways. There has never been a more important time for citizens to work together to prevent crime.
Unfortunately, no neighborhood is completely immune to crime. However, there are steps you can take to help keep your family and your neighborhood safe.
Know where your children are. Have your children tell you or ask permission before leaving the house and give them a time to check in or be home. When possible, have them leave a phone number of where they will be.
Help children learn important phone numbers. Have your children practice reciting their home phone number and address, and your work and cell phone numbers. If they have trouble memorizing these, write them down on a card and have them carry it at all times. Tell your children where you will be and the best way to reach you.
Set limits on where your children can go in your neighborhood. Do you want them crossing busy roads? Playing in alleys or abandoned buildings? Are there certain homes in your neighborhood that you don’t want your children to go to?
Get to know your children’s friends. Meet their parents before letting your children to go to their home and keep a list of their phone numbers. If you can’t meet their parents, call and talk to them.
Ask what your children might do at their house and if they will be supervised.
Choose a safe house in your neighborhood. Pick a neighbor’s house where your children can go if they need help. Point out other places they can go for help, like stores, libraries, and police stations.
Teach children to settle arguments with words, not fists. Role-play talking out problems, walking away from fist fights, and what to do when confronted with bullies. Remind them that taunting and teasing can hurt friends and make enemies.
Work together with your neighbors. Watch out for suspicious and unusual behavior in your neighborhood. Get to know your neighbors and their children so you can look out for one another.
Here in St. Lucie County, the Sheriff ’s Office has launched the Eye Watch program. This is an online database of homes and businesses that have external security cameras. In the event of a criminal incident, the Sheriff ’s Office can search the database and identify locations where video evidence may have been captured. This evidence could result in the timely and efficient arrest of a criminal or the successful solving of a case.
If you have home or business security cameras, including doorbell cameras, you can register online at www.stluciesheriff.com/eyewatch. You could be the missing link in fighting crime.
For more information about Eye Watch, Neighborhood Watch or other crime prevention programs, call our Community Engagement Unit at (772) 871-5303.