Citizens rally to fight crime
Last updated 6/28/2007 at Noon
Riverview resident and community volunteer Roger Boddaert hosted a Neighborhood Watch meeting for fellow residents of Riverview Drive and its adjacent roads on June 20 because he felt it would be a good idea for the neighbors to “regroup” due to what he considers some unsettling happenings in the area. His neighbors must have agreed, because they turned out in healthy numbers.
“We need to do whatever we can to protect and preserve our neighborhood,” said Boddaert.
Not too long ago, in the Riverview area, a resident’s housekeeper was frightened by two men who were allegedly dressed as communication/television repairman claiming they were there to repair a television before it “burst into flames.” The men grew angry when the housekeeper refused to let them enter the residence, explaining she needed to call the homeowners for verification. Eventually, they left. It was quickly verified that these were not repairmen.
In addition to this disturbing incident, mail in the area has also been stolen. Seemingly, this type of crime is becoming more common because of its link to identity theft.
The timing of this Neighborhood Watch meeting was perfect, because families will likely be taking their summer vacations soon.
“The one thing that you should do is to leave your home in a manner that makes it looks occupied while you are gone,” said John McLelland, Crime Prevention Specialist for the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation. He explained that families should secure and lock their homes when they leave and use timers on lamps with overlapping on/off times.
McLelland also mentioned how leaving a radio on a talk show station can be a good deterrent. And before one leaves for vacation, it is a good idea to tell your neighbor, stop your mail and call the Sheriff’s department for a free vacation home check.
The Sheriff’s department cannot be everyone all the time, McLelland freely admitted, so they depend on residents to be the eyes and ears of the community. “Neighborhood Watch helps reduce crime, because nobody knows the neighborhood better than the residents,” he said.
McLelland clearly articulated that a Neighborhood Watch is not a vigilante concept. Rather, it is being cognizant of your surroundings, immediately reporting suspicious activity and sharing information with your neighbors.
“I don’t expect <anyone> to know everything on the entire street, but know your neighbors on both sides of you and across the street,” explained McLelland. He added that it is a good idea for neighbors to pool their contact information, so individuals can be reached in the event a suspicious activity is seen around their home.
Reporting suspicious activity is a must, McLelland said. It makes sense that people cannot be helped by law enforcement if a call isn’t made to the Sheriff’s department. Suspicious activity includes, but is not limited to: an unknown person entering or exiting a home, strangers removing items from a home, forcible entry into a vehicle, screams for help, unknown people or cars lingering in the neighborhood, a stranger soliciting a child, abandoned vehicles and unusual and excessive noises (glass breaking, burglar alarm, gunfire, constant and aggressive dog barking).
McLelland emphasized, for safety reasons, to avoid confrontation with a suspicious individual. A safe alternative is to ask this type of innocuous question(s) to a lingering stranger: “Are you lost? Do you need help with directions?”
If possible, collect or remember as much data as you can about a suspicious person or vehicle so you can provide a description. McLelland also emphasized that if you clearly see a crime is in progress, call 9-1-1.
If you would like to organize a Neighborhood Watch effort in your neighborhood, contact John McLelland on the Sheriff’s department’s non-emergency phone number, (760) 451-3100.