These days that “talking” is often done via email, Facebook, Twitter etc. The important part is that we are sharing information.
Recently, our Chief of Police* stopped in to enquire about a matter I had heard about via email and had passed on. I was able to retrieve both the original message and what I had sent on. The information had to do with recent illegal activity in the Township. The suggestion within the emails was simply for us to be more alert, and more careful about assisting temptation such as leaving windows open and doors unlocked when we are away from home.
In nice weather, we may want to leave windows open for the fresh air, but just like an open wound can invite unwanted creatures, so can an open window. Watch out for the raccoon raiding your kitchen! When that creature is human, our belongings can go missing. If we know about a burglary in the neighborhood, we are more likely to be careful, and we only know about it if we talk with each other.
There are a few simple deterrents to the opportunistic burglar. Some thieves will knock on the front door, and getting no response, will go around to the back of the house and gain entrance less conspicuously. Lock the back door too. If there is a security sign near the house, you are less likely to be targeted. If there is a Beware of the Dog sign, the place is less tempting.
I want to know when something is afoot in my neighborhood. Neighbors can be your best immediate resource. Cultivate those relationships and you have an inbuilt neighborhood watch.
Everybody has their interests, obligations, worries and commitments. Not everyone will notice when something is out of place – a strange vehicle, unlicensed soliciting, unusual extended or overnight parking, etc. But when everyone is vigilant, there is a better sense of security, safety, and contribution to the community.
Pay attention. If you ever wanted a dog, get one. The shelters have many for adoption. If you are not home enough to care for a dog, dog care services are available. Or you could consider a Guard Cat.
It was because we talked with each other that we found out about a developer who had taken an option on a local farm. He wanted to install 72 houses. Because the neighborhood pulled together, got studies done, and funded our own lawyer, the proposal as submitted was denied. We fought the developer’s appeals through local court, county court and state court. Because we had a top-notch land rights and zoning lawyer, we won. The farm has been re-allocated for seven houses and a park adjacent to the elementary school.
But it would not have happened that way if we had not talked with each other.
* The Chief knows me well because of my involvement with the local Youth Aid Panel. See Finding The Tiger, A Coming of Age, page 31.