Thursday, May 19, 2011

Embrace Your Inner Mrs. Kravitz

You may not be familiar with the name Alice Pearce or Sandra Gould, but I am sure you remember Gladys Kravitz.  As the nosy neighbor on the television series Bewitched, Mrs. Kravitz was always causing trouble for Samantha Stephens by peeking into the windows to see what magic Samantha was brewing.  It wasn’t long before the name “Gladys Kravitz” entered our lexicon as a synonym for “nosy neighbor.”

I thought of Mrs. Kravitz not too long ago when an older woman in my neighborhood called me about a suspicious incident she observed in her neighbor’s yard several hours earlier.  She observed a stranger walking through the yard, looking at the house and poking around the grounds.  When I asked her if she called the police, she said “no.” She was afraid of getting involved because she mistakenly thought she would have to identify herself.

There was a time not that long ago that neighbors looked out for one another. But in today’s busy world where face to face connections have been so often replaced by email, texts and tweets, that sense of your neighbors being part of your extended family and the resulting responsibility to look out for each other has significantly diminished.  It is important to remember that being a Mrs. Kravitz today is not a bad thing and it can go a long way in protecting your community from crime.

All too often, people don’t want to get involved and report crimes because they are afraid. But, law enforcement officials need community involvement to successfully reduce and prevent crime in our neighborhoods.  Police and the Attorney General’s office cannot do their job of catching and prosecuting criminals without people reporting suspicious and criminal activity.  You have nothing to fear if you report a crime or are a witness to a crime.

The police can't be everywhere at once and they need our eyes watching our neighborhoods to help keep everyone as safe as possible. Neighbors are the ones who really know what is going on and are most likely to be the first to see a crime and call for help. Neighbors are in the best position to keep their own neighborhood safe. 

Keeping your eyes open for unknown individuals in the neighborhood will help prevent neighborhood crime because criminals are less likely to strike an area or street that seems to have a strong presence of “nosy neighbors.”  Neighbors who immediately report suspicious people, cars or trucks to the police also help prevent neighborhood crime. You never know when your description may help identify a known criminal who has chosen your comfort zone to lurk.

If your neighborhood doesn’t have an established Neighborhood Watch program, consider starting one.  It is a great crime prevention program that enlists the active participation of residents in cooperation with law enforcement to reduce crime, solve problems and improve the quality of life in your area.  Participation will teach you and your neighbors how to:

  • Recognize and report crimes and suspicious activities
  • Protect yourself, your family, and your property,
  • Protect your neighbor’s family and property, and
  • Identify crime and disorder problems in your area and work with your local police to solve them.
Your local police department can assist you in establishing a Neighborhood Watch program in your neighborhood.  Even if you are not involved in a Neighborhood Watch program, you can still take the lessons from the program and apply them to your everyday life.

I hope you will embrace your inner Mrs. Kravitz and report suspicious activity in your neighborhood.  Together, we can make crime disappear like magic.