Editorial: Stay alert | TBR News Media

Reading a police blotter — like the one on page A6 — some people may be surprised at certain incidents that occur in our cities and towns.

Take, for example, the broken-in cars and the purses and laptops that were on one of the stolen seats. Or people who check to see if a car door is open and, if so, go inside the vehicle to see if there is anything valuable. Sometimes these incidents even involve teenagers seeing if they can find any change in the cup holder.

The police can’t be everywhere, so the chances of one being nearby while someone smashes a car window is next to impossible. And if someone is checking to see if a door is open, how are the officers supposed to know if the vehicle belongs to the person or not?

When called to the scene, think of all the most serious incidents from which they are kept away to fill out a report for the one that could have been avoided.

People who grew up in a city know the golden rule, which is to lock the doors, whether it’s to a house or a car. It doesn’t matter whether people are outside or inside their home or vehicle. It can be as simple as that to reduce minor incidents in our communities. Also, valuables should never be left in plain sight in the car. If there is no choice, they should be put in the trunk, out of sight.

Of course, we live in an imperfect world and crimes will happen even if people are careful.

TBR News Media has always encouraged neighborhood watches. Early in our media organization, The Village Times launched Neighborhood Watch in Suffolk County. Our editor at the time, Ann Fossan, was familiar with the neighborhood watch program in her home state of California. The program is fairly easy to set up. Neighbors looking out their windows or walking down their driveway may spot an unfamiliar car or an unfamiliar person engaged in some unexplainable activity. They would then be encouraged by the police to call the local precinct’s non-emergency number and report it. The police do not think she would be disturbed unnecessarily; they welcome the cooperation of the public in order to do their job.

To work together as a neighborhood, residents must know how to alert each other. This means inviting neighbors to a neighborhood leader’s house for coffee and exchanging phone numbers. This way people get to know their neighbors and if there is a problem everyone is alerted. Every block needs a block captain.

The result of our project was the alliance of 70 neighborhood groups which included 700 local families. Back then, teenagers would walk around checking to see if the sliding patio doors of houses were open, and when they were, they would come in and commit robberies. After the implementation of the neighborhood watch, the incidents decreased considerably.

Retirees can be particularly effective in their surveillance of local homes and streets from their homes.

The simple fact that people are aware and aware can make a difference. Often the discussions revolve around the fact that we need to show more support for law enforcement. That’s one way to do it. Do not aid or abet potential criminals with negligent behavior. Close your doors and watch your neighbors.