While thinking about neighborhood safety may come naturally to you and the members of your HOA board, it can be difficult to get fellow residents to follow safety rules the board has set in place.
If you’re having trouble convincing your neighbors that security should be a priority for all residents, consider passing on tips police have provided to help neighborhoods prevent crime.
Here are 5 crime-prevention strategies from a Metro Atlanta Crime Prevention Officer.
1. Surveil Your Own Home
One of the most efficient ways to keep your home safe is to get into the mind of a burglar. Casing is a term that describes the way a burglar surveils a home, looking for patterns and determining the best times to enter a home when the homeowner is away.
Although most property crimes occur between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm while homeowners are away for the day, try casing your own home both at night and during the day. Attempt to gain access to your home when all doors and windows are locked. If you've found a point of weakness around your house, it's more than likely a burglar will as well.
Many law enforcement agencies offer free home security assessments for their residents. Check out your local police department's website for this type of service.
Make sure to let your neighbors know you'll be conducting this experiment so they don't accidentally report you to your local police.
2. Lock Up
The four most common points of entry for burglars are the front door, a window on the first floor, the back door, and the garage. Each of these entryways can be locked.
French doors and carport doors are known target locations for burglars, so make sure to fortify these areas. Most windows have locking devices, but consider a secondary locking feature utilizing window security pins. You can find these at your local hardware store.
Ask residents to make a habit of keeping doors and windows locked not just when they're away for the day, but also whenever they're at home. Police have seen cases where burglars have walked right into a house and gotten away with valuables when a homeowner was in their own backyard with the front door unlocked. Valuable jewelry pieces should not be displayed on your dresser.
Burglars know they don’t have a lot of time to gain entry into a home. If they try a few different points of entry and each of them are locked, it's likely they won't keep trying. By keeping doors and windows locked, you’re making your home less of a target for burglars.
Also, be mindful of vegetation that can conceal your home from the street. Burglars feel more comfortable breaking into a home that is hidden and concealed by large trees and shrubs. Trim dense shrubs at two feet or less, and trim tree canopies at six feet or higher. This creates a line of sight for your neighbors and police if they happen to drive by your residence.
3. Maintain a Relationship with Your Local Police Department
Many local law enforcement agencies have a department or person dedicated to their local community. Call up your local station and ask for their community liaison. Most likely, this liaison will be more than happy to come to an HOA meeting to speak with residents about safety tips.
Many police departments also offer educational and volunteer opportunity programs for citizens to learn more about safety and security. Examples include citizen's police academies or citizens on patrol programs. Popular programs like citizens on patrol allow citizens, who have received advanced training, the opportunity to assist at traffic accident scenes. Citizens can direct traffic in several ways. They can assist Public Works at work sites, participate in traffic control at public events, and even conduct checks on residences and businesses when owners are out of town.
4. Keep Up on Crime Trends
Take advantage of the relationship with your local police department to stay up-to-date on current crime trends in communities around you. Your local police will have more insight into when residents should be extra vigilant — like during the holidays, when package-stealing becomes more prevalent. You can also do your own crime trend research online. Police recommend Crime Reports.
5. Don't Wait
Save yourself the heartache of thinking about what could have been by acting sooner rather than later. Don't wait for crime to show up on your doorstep before taking safety precautions in your neighborhood.
Following this mindset, don't wait for someone else to speak up first if you see something that seems out of place. Police stress to residents that speaking up, even if they think the information they have is not valuable, helps police fulfill their duty to protect the community.
Remember, good security should be an inconvenience for anyone who attempts to enter your home or property.