Simple steps to prevent crime in your neighborhood

Simple steps to prevent crime in your neighborhood
If you've ever thought about starting a neighborhood watch program, the time is now. Contact your local law enforcement agency for more information. (Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In rural neighborhoods, you'll find a good bit of space between homes, and that makes it a little more difficult to keep an eye out for neighbors. That's why Shelly Jarvis decided to take action to better protect her neighborhood.

Because her street in Latimer does not have regular street lighting, Jarvis bought solar lights and placed them in front of the mailbox of every home on her street. While the solar devices don't light up an entire yard, they do help residents see the side of the road, and the lights help first responders find house numbers during an emergency.

Jarvis' efforts don't stop there. She started a neighborhood Facebook page.

"If we see anybody we're not familiar with, we post it on the Facebook page and keep each other informed about it," Jarvis said.

Tanya Rice lives in Biloxi. She and her husband recently posted home surveillance videos to her neighborhood's Facebook page. Rice said it's not the first time someone has tried to break into their family's vehicles.

Besides posting the video on Facebook, she talks to her immediate neighbors face to face.

"My neighbors may not even realize that hey, my glove compartment was open when I got into my vehicle this morning, so let me go through and make sure there's not something missing out of my car," Rice said.

Biloxi police officer Reuben Sabio warns people not to leave anything in your vehicle in plain view. He says if a criminal can't see it, they won't try to take it. 
Besides alerting your neighbors on social media, Officer Sabio suggests investing in surveillance cameras and good lighting.

"Even if you are not victimized, your neighbor may be victimized, and you may provide that one small piece of evidence that we need, footage of somebody driving by, footage of someone walking by, footage of someone walking around your property," Sabio explained.

Times have changed. There is no Mayberry anymore. Police say that's why you need to always lock your doors and windows and find a way to get to know your neighbors. Sabio says the more you know about your neighbors, the better off you are.

"Crime is like a big puzzle. Every piece fits in there somewhere," Sabio said. "A surveillance camera attached to the home, pointed toward your vehicle, can catch that one footage that may be needed to close the case."

So, if you've ever thought about starting a neighborhood watch program, the time is now. Contact your local law enforcement agency for more information.

While you're at it, start a neighborhood Facebook page and/or Twitter account so you can get messages to neighbors quickly. You can even set up a text or call-out system to send alerts.

Get moving, and do your part to help take a bite out of crime.

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