One of the foundations of a successful Neighborhood Watch program is the Five House Rule – and it works like this: get to know the neighbors on either side of you, and the three across the street for a total of five. This creates a cushion of safety and security around your home, because now you know your neighbors, and they know you. The benefits are tangible.
It’s important to exchange cell phone, email and home phone info, and to get to know each other’s general daily routine: find out who works from home, who is gone all day, who is retired, who is a stay-at-home parent, and get to know each other’s vehicles as well. If you’re going out of town, send an email or text message to your “five” letting them know when you’re leaving, when you’ll be back, and whether or not you’ll have a house-sitter/pet-sitter while you’re gone and what they drive.
You will be amazed at how this changes the safety dynamic around you. Suddenly, everyone is looking out for each other. See a strange vehicle? Send a quick text and ask your neighbors if they recognize the car. See some suspicious people walking around? Text everyone and point it out.
One of the best next steps is to literally just walk outside. Act like you’re doing yard work, or get your neighbor to meet you outside for a quick conversation. Just being in view will deter criminal activity. Thieves do not want to get caught.
Keep in mind – this does not mean you now need to host all of your neighbors for dinner or become lifelong friends (but if either did happen, bonus!) It also doesn’t mean you have to know everyone’s “business” and vice versa. The 5 House Rule is just about basic vigilance, awareness and communication. This is what Neighborhood Watch is all about.
So make a commitment to get to know your “five” by the end of the month. It’s as simple as knocking on the door or leaving a note, or just popping over when folks are outside. It only takes a minute, and it will make the neighborhood that much safer.
~ Dennis Wolfe, KHG Safety & Security Committee