Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention (2024)


Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention (1)

Neighborhood Watch is known to instill a greater sense of security, well-being, and reduce the fear of crime in your community. It also creates a greater "sense of community" and puts the neighbor back into neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch brings law enforcement and the community together as a team to reduce crime in your area.

It is impossible to have a police officer in every block at all times, so community involvement is a must in order to reduce the opportunity for crime to take place. Residents know what is going on in the neighborhood better than anyone else.

Your neighborhood organization is already an organized group in your neighborhood. It makes sense for your association to either help set up Neighborhood Watch or to support Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood. Some Neighborhood Watches are set up independent of their neighborhood organization or are a standing committee of the association. It is not necessary for Neighborhood Watch to be a committee of the association. What’s important is what works for your neighborhood that encourages as many neighbors to join Neighborhood Watch.

What the association and Neighborhood Watch have in common include:

Volunteer driven - takes neighbors to make it happen.
Desire to have a safe and friendly neighborhood.
Preventing crime and reporting suspicious activity to the Orlando Police Department.

If your neighborhood doesn’t have a Neighborhood Watch, this guide shows you how to implement Neighborhood Watch. If your existing Neighborhood Watch is not a part of the association, here are some ways your association may support Neighborhood Watch:

  • Ask your members to be an active Neighborhood Watch member.
  • Recruit Block Captain to be a liaison with the association and present a status or information at your association meetings.
  • Promote Neighborhood Watch through all your communication tools.
  • Recognize the good works and actions of Neighborhood Watch members and Block Captains through your communication tools.
  • Invite Neighborhood Watch to participate in association events.
  • Support National Night Out (annual the first Tuesday in October) activities in your neighborhood.

If we can join together to address crime, fears, and issues, we can make a difference. Neighborhood Watch programs require active participation of their residentsserving as extra “eyes and ears” in their neighborhood and reporting suspicious activity and crimes to the Orlando Police Department.

Get Started

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It’s easy to start a Neighborhood Watch. Reach out to the Orlando Police Department Community Relations Unit to get started. 407.246.2461.

The neighborhood can come together to start a Neighborhood Watch. Your neighborhood association is already an organized group that could work with residents to form Neighborhood Watch. However, you do not have to have a neighborhood association to start Neighborhood Watch.

Next Steps:

  • Locate a group of people committed to starting a Neighborhood Watch.
  • Decide on a place to meet: resident's house or apartment, community center, school, library, church.
  • Publicity is important. Announce you are hosting a neighborhood watch meeting. The Orlando Police Department will provide you with a flyer and/or e-blast.
  • At your 1st meeting, your Neighborhood Watch Specialist and your Police Community Liaison will work with you to recruit Block Captains.
  • Identify a means of communicating with the residents: e-mail, flyers, texting, and telephone chains.
  • Your OPD Crime Prevention Specialist will provide brochures or other materials on topics of interest to the residents to hand out at your meeting.
  • OPD will provide a Neighborhood Watch signs to be posted in the community.
  • OPD encourages Neighborhood Watch groups to meet twice a year, after they have conducted their two initial training sessions: Session 1 – Dynamics of Neighborhood Watch, Session 2 – Residential and Personal Security.
  • Extra Neighborhood Watch signs can be purchased from the city.
  • Hearsay can be misleading and is not productive. Your OPD Police Liaison will provide you with crime stats at your Neighborhood Watch meeting.

    Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention (3)

Neighborhood Watch Works:

  • Remains the most successful crime prevention program worldwide. The Neighborhood Watch program encourages and teaches citizens to recognize and report suspicious activity.
  • Works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur, it doesn’t rely on altering or changing the criminal’s behavior or motivation.
  • Involves free training from law enforcement on inexpensive ways to safeguard your home and property.

If you already have active Association meetings this can be a great opportunity to have Orlando Police Department speak on crime prevention to all residents.

What is Suspicious Activity?

As a member of Neighborhood Watch, one of your most important duties is to report suspicious activity. But what is suspicious activity? There are many people, things and situations that might be considered suspicious. When a person's conduct or action does not fit the norm of your neighborhood, follow your intuition.

If you think or feel that something is wrong or suspicious, it probably is. Call 911.

You should consider the following activities or persons as suspicious:

  • A person or vehicle that stays in the same place for an unusual length of time.
  • A vehicle drives around your block frequently, slowing down, speeding up, etc.
  • A person looks into cars, moving from car to car and/or tries door handles.
  • A car leaves or arrives from a certain location, without lights at night.
  • A person sells or conducts business out of his car, van, truck or other vehicle.
  • Continuous repair operations at a non-business location (stolen property being altered).
  • Unusual noises, such as gunshots, screaming, or dogs barking continuously (burglary, assault, rape).
  • A person exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms (may be injured/under the influence of drugs/may be in need of medical attention).
  • Sound of breaking glass (burglary or vandalism).
  • Going door to door in a residential area, especially if one or more goes to rear of residence (Gypsies, Traveling Thieves).
  • A person runs at night for no apparent reason transporting an unusual or valuable object during the night (fleeing the scene of crime).
  • Forcing entrance or entering an unoccupied house.
  • Heavy traffic to and from a residence if it occurs on a daily basis (drug dealing).
  • Loitering around schools, parks or secluded areas (sex offenders).

Crime Prevention

This section contains some practical crime prevention tips and information

Outdoor Sheds

Did you know that while it's important to have proper locks on all doors and windows in your home, it's also important to do the same for your shed? Not only will this keep your hammers and drills protected but it will also prevent a burglar from using those tools to access your home. It's also important to never leave this kind of equipment lying around your yard after working outside. Always put these things away, especially ladders. If not, you could help a burglar easily access a second floor window.

Doors and Windows

If you're worried about your windows or glass doors you have some security options. A security company can offer you an alarm system that monitors these areas with a glass break sensor. Because sliding glass doors are sometimes more vulnerable than a traditional front or back door, consider placing a piece of metal or wood in the door's track. A nail or similar device can be placed in the top track of a sliding glass door to prevent it from being lifted and removed. If a burglar does try to force open the door, the obstacle will prevent this.


Last, take a look at the landscaping around your home. If you have tall overgrown shrubs around your front windows you'll want to trim them. This will decrease the places a burglar can hide. Also, placing thorny bushes around window entries is a good way to prevent a burglar from using that entrance.

These small improvements to your home will increase your home security and help keep your family protected.

Identity Theft

Your personal information may be stolen from: a credit scheme over the phone, takingold business records from a dumpster (dumpster diving), bank applications, stealing mail from mail boxes and even doctor or dentist records.

Here are a few options to consider to protect your identity:

  • Do not place outgoing mail in your mailbox. Hand your outgoing mail to the carrier or place it in a post office box.
  • Monitor your credit report. Be on the lookout for lines of unauthorized credit (usually through credit cards).
  • If you suspect that you have become a victim of Identity Theft, contact the police department. Take notes of all dates, times and people you speak to.
  • Contact your local post office to determine if there has been an unauthorized change of address request from your address. A change of address can be made from a computer.
  • Advise the post office to disregard any unauthorized change of address and continue to deliver your mail to the current existing address. Make sure any changes of address is removed from the USPS computers.
  • Contact the US Postal Inspector's Office to report any unauthorized activity. 1-877-876-2455, you will be assigned a report confirmation number.
  • Report the attempt to your local police.
  • Orlando Police Dept. Fraud Line: 407.246.4012.
  • Be sure and keep the case number in a safe place.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Comm. If your social security number is being used. 1.877.438.4338.

Contact all 3 credit reporting agencies to place an alert or freeze your credit.

Experian 1-888-397-3742
Equifax 1-800-525-6285
Trans Union 1-800-397-7289

Contact ALL of your credit card companies and banking institutions and review accounts.

Change any password or pin numbers that you feel may be compromised.

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General Crime Definitions

Arson: Any willful or malicious burning or attempts to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling, public building, other building or structure, motor vehicle, aircraft, personal property of another, etc.

Assault: The attack or threat of attack for the purpose of inflicting severe bodily injury, usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

Assault (simple): The use of personal physical force against another. It does not involve the use of any firearm, knife, cutting instrument or other dangerous weapon. Injury, if any, requires little more than first aid treatment.

Burglary: The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft.

Disorderly Conduct: Any behavior that intends to disturb the public peace or decorum causes public inconvenience annoyance or alarm, or shock the public sense of morality.

Drug Abuse: The violation of laws prohibiting the production, distribution, and/or use of certain controlled sub­ stances and equipment or devices utilized in their preparation and/or use.

DUI: Driving or operating a motor vehicle or common carrier while mentally or physically impaired as the result of consuming an alcoholic beverage or using a drug or narcotic.

Embezzlement: The unlawful misappropriation or misapplication by an offender to his/her own use or purpose of money, property, or some other thing of value entrusted to his/her care, custody or control.

Family Offense: Unlawful nonviolent acts by a family member (or legal guardian) which threaten the physical, mental, or economic well-being or morals of another family member and which are not classifiable as other offenses.

Forgery/Counterfeiting: The altering, copying, or imitating of something without authority or right, with the intent to deceive or defraud by passing the copy as the original.

Fraud: The intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another person or other entity in reliance upon it to part with something of value or surrender a legal right.

Homicide: Willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.

Kidnap: Commits this when, with intent to interfere substantially with another's personal liberty, and without legal consent a person takes another from one place to another or secretly confines a person in a place where the person is not likely to be found.

Larceny: The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another.

Liquor Law: The violation of local laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, or use of alcoholic beverages.

Motor Vehicle Theft: Theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.

Runaway: Is a status offense for Juveniles. When a person under the age of 18 purposefully leaves the home of their legal guardian without consent to do so and fails to return.

Sex Offense: Offenses against chastity, common decency, morals, and the like.

Stolen Property (buy, receive, possess): Buying, receiving, possessing, selling, concealing, or transporting any property with the knowledge that it has been unlawfully taken as by burglary, embezzlement, fraud, larceny, robbery, etc.

Theft from Vehicle: Thefts of articles from automobiles, trucks, attached truck trailers, buses, vans motor homes or motorcycles. Also, includes any parts or accessory attached to the interior or exterior of a motor vehicle.

Rape: The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults and attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included; however, statutory rape (without force) and other sex offenses are excluded.

Robbery: The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.

Vandalism/Criminal Mischief: Consists of the willful, malicious, or mischievous destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of any public or private property, real or personal, without consent of the owner or person having custody or control, by cutting, tearing, breaking, marking, painting, drawing, converting with filth, or any other means as may be specified by law.

Weapons: The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, concealment, or use of firearms, cutting instruments, explosives, incendiary devices, or other deadly weapons.

Things Your Burglar Won't Tell You

  • Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.
  • Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste. and taste means there are nice things inside.
  • Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.
  • Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.
  • Remove all mail.
  • If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.
  • A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too. If you have guns or a gun safe that can be carried off if not bolted to the floor, make sure that area/room has motion detectors.
  • It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.
  • I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it)
  • Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, the medicine cabinet and any catch all drawers. Helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.
  • You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me. 2nd warning!
  • A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.
  • Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.
  • I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.
  • I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?
  • I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address so don't put your address, phone number or email address on Facebook. I'll find you.

Who is a Sex Offender?

A sex offender is a person who is convicted of committing, attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit any Florida Statute Chapter 794 offense, or any of the following crimes involving a child victim, and who is released on or after October 1, 1997 from the sanction imposed by reason of conviction of his or her sex offender offense. The sex offender designation applies to any listed sex offense, regardless of the date the offense was committed, for which an offender is being released on or after October 1, 1997 from the "sanction imposed" for the offense, or, is currently under the care, custody, or control of the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC). "Sanction imposed" includes, but is not limited to, a fine, probation, community control, parole, and conditional release, control release or incarceration. See F.S. 943.0435(12) for additional information regarding sexual offenders. This law was not retroactive. If the subject was released from sanctions before the October 1, 1997 date, the subject is not required to register.

Who is a Sexual Predator?

There are two ways of becoming a sexual predator in the state of Florida:

(1) Commit on or after October 1, 1993 one of several offenses which are capital, life or first degree felony violations or

(2) Commit a second sexual predator offense which means committing a second degree or greater felony violation of listed sexual offenses after having previously been found to have committed certain other listed sexual offenses.

To be designated as a predator, the subject must have been found by the court to be a sexual predator. Florida law requires a written court finding for sexual predator status. Sexual predator designation only applies to sex offenses committed on or after October 1, 1993. In addition, the subject must have beenconvicted of either one first­ degree felony sex crime, or two second degree felony sex crimes. In the latter situation, the second offense must occur within 10 years of the previous offense, conviction, or release from the sanction of the court, whichever is later. Additionally as of July 1, 2004, anyone civilly committed under the Florida Jimmy Ryce Sexually Violent Predator Act must also register as a sexual predator. See F.S. 775.21(3) for additional information regarding sexual predators.

Preventing Carjacking

  • Always park in well-lit areas, if you plan to arrive/leave after dark.
  • Don't park in isolated or visually obstructed areas near walls or heavy foliage.
  • Use valet parking or an attended garage, if you're a woman driving alone.
  • As you walk to your car be alert to suspicious person s sitting in cars.
  • Ask for a security escort if you are alone when leaving a building.
  • Watch out for young males loitering in the area (handing out flyers, etc).
  • If someone tries to approach, change direction or run to a busy store.
  • Follow your instincts if they tell you to walk/run away to a busy place.
  • As you approach your vehicle, look under, around, and inside your car, if safe, open the door, enter quickly, and lock the doors.
  • Don't be a target by turning your back while loading packages into the car.
  • Make it your habit to always start your car and drive away immediately.
  • Teach and practice with your children to enter and exit the car quickly.
  • In the city, always drive with your car doors locked and windows rolled up.
  • When stopped in traffic, leave room ahead to maneuver and escape, if necessary.
  • If you are bumped in traffic, by young males, be suspicious of the accident.
  • Beware of the Good Samaritan who offers to repair your car or a flat tire. It's okay to get help, just be alert.
  • Wave to follow, and drive to a gas station or busy place before getting out.
  • If you are ever con fronted by an armed carjacker don't resist; Give up your keys or money if demanded without resistance.
  • Don't argue, fight or chase the robber. You can be seriously injured.
  • Never agree to be kidnapped. Drop the cars keys and run and scream for help.
  • If you are forced to drive, consider crashing your car near a busy intersection to attract attention so bystanders can come to your aid and call the police.
  • Call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information.

Target Harden Your Home

Process wherein a building is made into a more difficult or less attractivetarget.

  • Be sure you lock all entrances to your home when you leave. It's a good idea if your home alone to keep the doors locked too.
  • If you leave at night, keep at least one light on. Set a light inside the house on a timer.
  • Keep the outside of your home well lit during the overnight hours. Motion lights and dusk to dawn lights are good to use.
  • Report any street lights that are not working properly. Keep all fence gates closed and locked.

    Be sure when you are not at home, all of your windows are locked and the shades are drawn. Don't give someone a chance to see inside, or be able to enter your home through an open window.

  • If leaving for vacation, let your trusted neighbors know. Ask them to keep an open eye, or walk through the house on occasion, also ask someone to pick up your newspaper and mail or have these services stopped while you are out of town.
  • If you can, shred all mail that has any identifying information.
  • If you have a daily routine and keep your property and home a certain way, do not change this when you go on vacation. This may be a tip to burglars that you are away.
  • Be observant in your neighborhood. Know your neighbors, notice who is walking in your area.
  • If you purchase luxury items, break the box down before discarding it.
  • At night, park your car in a lit area. Be sure to keep your vehicles locked at all times.
  • If you have a home alarm system use it at all times.
  • Do not let anyone you do not know enter your home.
  • If you see someone committing a crime, report it to the police. You can remain anonymous.
  • Keep plants trimmed so a burglar cannot hide near windows and doors.
  • Keep all doors locked at all times. Put a peephole viewer in your door.
  • Make sure outside are doors made of solid core construction, including the door leading from the garage to the house.
  • Secure doors with a deadbolt lock (single or double cylinder) with a minimum 1 inch throw.
  • Keep a record of valuables, complete with serial number, make and model.

    Secure windows with backup keyed locks or pinned with a nail. Mark valuables with your Florida Driver's License number.

How to Report a Crime

Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention (5)

Dial 911. Inform the operator: "This is an emergency" or "This is not an emergency call".

  • Type of crime.
  • Location of crime.
  • Crime in progress or when it occurred.
  • Suspect armed?
  • Description of suspect (age, gender, race, weight, height).
  • Give your name, address, and phone number.
  • Description of vehicle.
  • Direction of travel.
  • Stay on line until you are told to hang up.
  • You may want to ask to meet with responding officer after the call is completed.

Feeling safe in your neighborhood is vital to quality of life. Starting a Neighborhood Watch and having it work side by side with the Neighborhood Association is key to a safe, well connected neighborhood. Learn how to keep yourself and your neighborhood safe.

Start a Neighborhood Watch today, if your neighborhood already has one then bring them into neighborhood association meetings to share crime prevention tips with all residents.

Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention (2024)
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