Community Watch Safety Tips
We, at Community Watch, pledge to continue our efforts to make the lifestyle in The Villages outstanding. Our Community Watch staff is unique from other communities. We are staffed primarily with Village residents, men and women who are neighbors to the people they are serving. Community Watch patrols, checks residents, takes care of our community properties, staffs our entrance gates, responds to medical problems assisting Villages Public Safety’s EMTs, assists at traffic accidents, checks residents’ property within assigned patrol area enrolled in our House Check program and performs many other tasks to keep our residents living The Villages lifestyle. The Villages gets better every day and we, at Community Watch, also try to improve every day.
We wish to pass on to you some tips to enhance your safety & security.
Senior Awareness & Crime Prevention
Please keep in mind that the word “CRIMINAL” brings to mind, for many of us, a picture of a gun toting, masked man with beady eyes, and a nervous twitch. However, criminals come in all shapes and sizes, and it is impossible to detect a potential criminal from physical appearances alone. Obviously, a criminal is anyone who commits a crime, and not all criminals are armed robbers or murderers. For instance, anyone who uses illegal substances, shoplifts or takes home unauthorized materials from work or elsewhere is, in fact, committing a crime.
In most cases, professionals who make their primary income from illegal activities will not commit the majority of crimes in our community. Crimes are committed by amateurs who, for a multitude of reasons, and because an opportunity exists, decide to violate someone else’s rights for their own personal gain.
Unless you isolate yourself from society in general, you may be affected by criminal activity at some point in time. One important aspect to keep in mind is that no criminal wants to be caught. It is, therefore, important to take everyday precautions that will increase the criminal’s chances of getting caught, if he or she were to attempt to commit a crime against you, your family or your property. That is one reason our gate guards attempt to establish eye contact with each visitor that passes through our gates.
There are various things that you can do to help deter crime while home or away from home.
- Doors - Keep all doors locked, and always use the deadbolt as a deterrent. (Remember that chains on your door may not protect you). Chains will allow you to see who is at the door, but it is even better to install a peephole. Never open your door to strangers or unexpected servicemen. If you have doubts, make the person wait while you call their company for verification.
- Keys - Never hide your keys outside. If you can find them, so can a stranger. Leaving a key with a trusted neighbor makes more sense.
- Windows - Keep windows locked while not at home. Leaving your windows slightly open can make pry bar use much easier.
- Light - Leave lights on in logical areas of your home. If away for an extended period of time, install a timer device – they are inexpensive and do deter crime.
- Sounds - Sounds deter burglars. Having your radio on or your television on, set to a talk show at times when you are not at home, may make a burglar think that someone is at home. He may then look for an easier target.
- Singles - Single women should put only the initial of their first name in a phone book or other correspondence. A widow should also leave their spouse’s first name on all correspondence.
- IDs - Make sure all your valuables have some sort of identification on them, in case of theft or burglary. Marked items are more difficult to pawn when a burglar tries to sell his "loot".
- Phones - Senior citizens depend on their telephones much more than most folks. The phone is a link to relatives or friends, and when needed, a call for help. A good idea for our seniors that are ill or live alone, is to touch base with Community Watch and arrange for a call every day so we can keep a close watch on your well-being. Be careful of "con men" and never agree to an offer on the phone. There is always someone out there that wants to take your money. Hiding behind a phone is one way they do it.
- Outside your home - Avoid carrying extra money or valuables on your person. Men should carry money and identification in a separate place other than a wallet. Stash your cash, never flash it. Women should consider whether they really need to carry a handbag. Sometimes money or other valuables along with identification could be carried in a pocket or other safe place. Fanny packs offer a great place to carry items. Always remember that the best target for a purse-snatcher is a lady with a purse dangling from her arm while carrying groceries or other shopping bags. Try not to set your purse down on a store counter or put your purse in a shopping cart. Placing a purse beside you while in a bus or other conveyance invites trouble. The best deterrent to purse snatchers is to carry the purse upside down with the clasp open, keeping the purse closed with your hand. If the purse is snatched when it is upside down, everything falls out while the criminal is running away with an empty purse. They will not stop to pick the items up.
- Always carry a whistle if possible - Unexpected loud noise can scare off a trouble maker, and will summon help. Try to walk with another person at night in a parking lot or other secluded spot. Be alert to your area, and stay in a well-lighted and well-traveled area, away from bushes, alleys, or other places someone could hide. Always have your car keys in your hand, and remember that keys are an excellent weapon against an intruder.
Everything listed above are tips to help keep you safe and secure. Everyone has to be ready in case of emergency. We all tend to have the feeling that only others will be affected by criminal behavior. A good thought to keep in mind is the old Boy Scout motto. "Be Prepared".