A safer neighbourhood could be closer than you think.
There are 15 Block Watch neighbourhoods established throughout the West Shore, but the RCMP is looking to further open the lines of communication with the public in the area and urge the public to help limit preventable crime.
Closer ties between neighbours can make a difference in making communities safer, said Const. Emma Rutledge with the West Shore RCMP’s community policing section.
“The summer months may increase crime and we are looking to get the word out to get to get more Block Watch groups out there,” she said.
The well-known program helps the public learn how to best secure their houses and watch out for those of their neighbours, making streets and neighbourhoods less prone to criminal activity.
Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz said a little bit of knowledge can go a long way toward preventing crime.
Simple actions such as trimming trees and shrubs so doors and windows are visible to neighbours is a good place to start, she said. The posting of signs indicating that homes and streets are part of a Block Watch program have also proven to be a deterrent to potential criminals, she added.
“A thief is going to be enticed more by that house of opportunity,” Rochlitz said. “If someone has taken the time and effort to say I have taken this program, I believe in this program, I want you to know about it, it is that one more piece of prevention that maybe sends (thieves) off.”
Homes are targeted during this time of the year, when people spend more time outdoors and go on vacations. Little steps such as ensuring someone collects your newspapers and mail while you are away so they don’t pile up can be a simple, but effective deterrent.
“Those are all telltale signs to criminals that someone is away and it becomes a crime of opportunity,” Rochlitz said.
Local Block Watch captain Kamran Rad, who owns a condo in the Westhills development in Langford, started the program in October. He said it’s been an eye-opening learning experience.
“We haven’t had any serious incidents, as far as I know. It has been pretty good so far,” he said.
There have been unexpected side benefits for Rad as well, not least of which is lower home insurance rates.
“It goes beyond preventing theft and break-ins. It unites the community and helps in other aspects as well,” he said. “You become a large family and everyone watches out for each other.”
All in all, he has enjoyed being a part of the program and highly recommends it to anyone wondering about getting involved.
For more information on Block Watch or to attend an information meeting contact the West Shore RCMP.