Sussex Realtors encourage neighborhood watch programs


Though not nearly as prevalent in Southern Delaware as in other parts of the country, worry over having your home broken into is a very real concern for any homeowner in Sussex County, as well as for those renting their places of residence.

There are many ways to protect your home and your family, including installing a home security system and even welcoming a dog into your inner circle — one that can make lots of noise if someone who is not welcome enters your residence.

But another way to ensure that your family and your community remain safe is to begin an effective neighborhood watch network, which involves working closely and diligently as a group in an effort to keep everyone safe.

“Sussex Countians are known for working together toward common goals, and that’s exactly what is involved with any effective neighborhood watch program,” said Trina Joyner, 2012 president of the Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR). “Beginning one of these programs has proven to be one of the best deterrents against crime, and we certainly encourage any community to look into, and begin, one today.”

According to the United States Department of Justice, so-called “property crimes,” including burglary, vandalism and auto theft, make up 78 percent of criminal behavior in the United States. To combat these crimes, Realtors from coast to coast have long advocated establishing neighborhood watch programs.

During Realtor Safety Month in September, the National Association Realtors (NAR), SCAOR’s parent organization, offers the following tips to help recruit members into an effective watch program.

• Recruit with facts. Talk with your local police department and gather facts about crime in your community. Find out as much information as you can, including which crimes are the most common and if there are any noticeable patterns for the criminal behavior.

• Ease fears. Have a policeman come to your first meeting and explain to participants exactly what they will be doing and what is expected of them. For example, it’s not undercover work and participants will not be carrying guns. You will simply be looking for suspicious incidents and reporting them to the police.

• Assure potential participants. Promise neighbors that the time commitment is minimal. You don’t necessarily need to walk a beat, but it is a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open at all times and stay in contact with your friends and neighbors.

“In addition to these tips from NAR, it’s also a good idea to post signs around the neighborhood and to make sure you are seen and heard,” said Joyner. “You want the word to spread to anyone who may want to engage in criminal activity that your community is now actively being watched. Criminals will not typically go into an area if there is an active neighborhood watch program, particularly if there is a less-guarded community nearby. So we encourage all communities in Sussex County to look into protecting themselves in this way.”

Signs, deterrent decals and other crime-fighting warnings can be purchased through the National Neighborhood Watch Institute at www.nnwi.org.

In the First State, the Delaware State Police (DSP) also assists with creating and maintaining neighborhood watch programs. To learn more, contact the DSP at (302) 739-5901.

To read more about issues related to Sussex County’s real estate industry, visit SCAOR’s Web site at www.scaor.com.