Neighborhood security requires – above all else – community participation. You’re only as safe and secure as your neighbors make you, which is why true neighborhood security requires an organizer. If you are the neighborhood’s security organizer, on your HOA’s security board or simply a citizen determined to make your community safer this article presents tools, theories, concepts and tactics for bringing true safety to those who matter most – your family.

If you have any questions about any of the tactics or strategies presented here please feel free to contact us at info@pro-vigil.com. If you’d like more information on protecting your neighborhood with live video surveillance please call us at (866) 616-1318 or visit our contact page.

Table of Contents:
1) Institute or Revitalize Your Neighborhood Watch
2) Provide Adequate Security Lighting
3) Upgrade Your Guards and Cameras: Live Security Surveillance
4) Understand Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
5) Form Up Community Citizen Patrols
6) Post Appropriate Security Notification Signage
7) Organize Daytime, Neighborhood-wide Activities
8) Monitor Your Local News Feeds
9) Evaluate Your Gate: How Secure Does it Really Make You?
10) Provide Basic Home Security Education to Your Neighbors

1) Institute or Revitalize Your Neighborhood Watch
The National Sherif’s Association reports that almost 80% of first responders to neighborhood crime are your neighbors. Crime simply can’t take root in an alert and cooperative neighborhood. When neighbors join together, meet regularly, and learn proactive and vigilant security habits crime decreases. Whether you’re a concerned neighbor or on your HOA’s neighborhood safety and security committee your first step should be either instituting or evaluating a neighborhood watch. We recommend the Neighborhood Watch Toolkit Training series as a great place to learn the tactics and techniques of a powerful neighborhood watch.

2) Provide Adequate Security Lighting
Areas of heavy darkness and shadow provides a welcome mat to thieves and vandals. Drive through your neighborhood at night and look for zones of shadow near houses and especially near entry and exit points in your community. Accent lighting for landscape and architectural highlighting is often enough to make homes safer. Be sure that you have a 100 foot zone of visibility around your home that’s bright enough to identify faces and colors. Entry points and walkways are especially important to keep well lit. Installing adequate street lighting throughout the neighborhood and especially on dark corners and zones of “getaway” make it easier for alert citizens to report suspicious activity they see. Lighting at entry points and areas near the main road also deters criminals from “staging” themselves there for an operation. For more general strategies on security lighting see 5 Security Lighting Tips For Your Construction Site.

3) Upgrade Your Guards and Cameras: Live Security Surveillance
Guards are a very expensive way to do very little for your neighborhood security. 24 hour guard service – by guards paid $10 an hour – will cost you at least $87k. That does not include the security guard agency’s profits. Outsourced video surveillance – installing wireless video cameras that transmit video to off-site security guards – delivers far greater neighborhood coverage at a potentially far lower cost. When the off-site guards detect suspicious activity they can call the police and alert designated security officials in your neighborhood. Unobserved video camera surveillance can be helpful after a criminal incident, but adding outsourced monitoring delivers far more effective and proactive security that actually stops crime before it happens. Live video surveillance is excellent for keeping vandals out of the pool after hours as this video shows… Learn more about live security surveillance.

4) Understand Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
Crime prevention through environmental design is quite simple, really. According to CPTED-Watch.com, crime prevention through environmental design is, “design that eliminates or reduces criminal behavior and at the same time encourages people to “keep an eye out” for each other.” Further, the site states that “in some CPTED communities, criminal activity has decreased by as much as 40 percent.” The basic tenets include keeping any intruders easily visible, reinforcing boundaries through fencing and landscaping, discouraging public access to private areas and improving things like locks on windows and doors. You can learn more about crime prevention through environmental design at CPTED-Watch.com. Wikipedia provides an interesting history of CPTED that provides more depth and theory. Find areas in your neighborhood that could benefit from CPTED and make real changes that provide a real security difference.

5) Form Up Community Citizen Patrols
As an addition or evolution of your community watch program consider partnering closely with your local law enforcement agency and forming up regular community patrols by neighbors. Find and authorize people willing to volunteer an hour a week for a drive through the neighborhood with a cellphone at the ready. Make sure these patrols are well trained, unarmed and that the patrol members understand how to stay safe in the case that they detect suspicious or unlawful activity going on. A citizen patrol group can even coordinate with neighbors who are on vacation to provide an extra level of security. The National Association of Citizens on Patrol website can provide you with the templates for starting your own citizen patrol program.

6) Post Appropriate Security Notification Signage
Once you have implemented a security program in your neighborhood you can increase its effectiveness by posting signs that educate potential thieves about your defenses. This signage must be large, clear in its message and posted throughout your neighborhood. It serves as a powerful psychological reminder that your neighborhood knows how to defend itself.

7) Organize Daytime, Neighborhood-wide Activities
Community events encourage natural feelings of neighborliness – and communicate to outsiders that a neighborhood has solidarity. Neighborhood clean up events remove the little bits of garbage and vegetation overgrowth that subtly tells thieves that an area is not well guarded. Monthly clean up volunteers can tackle regular maintenance issues as well as potential vegetation overgrowth or waste that provides cover for criminals. A neighborhood that keeps clean is less likely to seem like a good target to thieves.

8) Monitor Your Local News Feeds
It’s easy in this digital age to plug into a flow of news that pertain to crimes in your vicinity. Google offers a free “web band” scanner service called Google Alerts that monitors the news for you. All you have to do is tell them what terms to look for in news stories and give them your email address.

For example, try monitoring for these terms:
[your city and state] theft
[your city and state] vandalism

If you notice a series of car break-ins in your area then communicate that to your neighbors through a security-related email list so they can be extra vigilant. You may need to tweak the terms in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, but there’s nothing like monitoring the news to alert you to potential threats.

9) Evaluate Your Gate: How Secure Does it Really Make You?
Gated communities provide a much higher sense of security, but do they provide a real decrease in criminal activity? In some cases, yes – for a short time. If you want to determine how safe the gates in your community really keep you here are a few questions to ask. What is your community’s policy on “tail gating” or double entry? If your community is lax about double entries then thieves will have an easy time entering. Is there a guard at the gate or is it automated? Guards are more expensive but they also provide a higher level of security at the critical entry and exit point of your neighborhood. If there is a guard, how much does he or she make an hour? Your security is only as good as the people you hire. What is your neighborhood policy on allowing in service professionals and delivery people? As soon as security codes pass from residents to non-residents your neighborhood security is compromised.

10) Provide Basic Home Security Education to Your Neighbors
You’d be surprised how lax most people are about the most basic security habits. Locking front doors is an alien concept to some people. Bringing in your local law enforcement to lead a seminar on basic home security can be a great way to both educate and bring together your neighbors. Also there is a wealth of information available online that will help you to educate your neighbors about the best ways to protect themselves.

Much of the information in this particular article is too “high level” to be of interest to the average home owner or resident, so we’ve assembled a short list of home security education resources for you to pass along.

How To Prevent Burglary
Notes From a Home Burglary Prevention Seminar by Plano Police
Burglary Protection Tips
Burglary Prevention Advice

More Resources for Security Organizers:
USA on Watch: Neighborhood Watch Program
National Association of Citizens on Patrol
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
Neighborhood Watch Toolkit Training
Prevention of Crime: An Overview of Gated Communities and Neighborhood Watch
Gated Community Security

4 Responses to “Effective Neighborhood Security: 10 Strategies for Community Security Organizers”

  1. [...] found a great article over @ Pro-Vigil on Neighborhood security that has 10 great and FREE strategies to help people organize security on your block, community, or area. Neighborhood security requires [...]

  2. Pamela says:

    Excellent! This is an outstanding list of tips and recommendations. I think most people fail to realize how important neighborhood engagement is to keeping a home safe and secure. I recently moved into a new house and still have only met two of my neighbors. I thought people would come introduce themselves to me, but no such luck.

  3. dpayne says:

    Thank you very much for the article. Actively working to build a community in your neighborhood is such a positive thing in so many ways. Not only do you build relationships with people that you see almost every day but you also build a trust and reliance on one another that is very valuable, especially when dealing with things like home security.

  4. William Keeler says:

    Our neighborhood installed 14 camera’s with all video recorded. Later found out from Police that any information that we had was not admissible in court unless we had video of the actual crime in process. We keep them operational for our own benefit and use by our Volunteer Patrols in identifying suspects they may see. Individual home security with video and interactive with cell phone provides the best security. We constantly provide educational information in our neighborhood newsletter and we have an e-mail notification system to advise of suspicious activities.

Leave a Reply

In March 2014, Pro-Vigil saved its customers $28,424 in property crimes!