What is Neighbourhood Watch?
For many growing up in East Toronto and across the G.T.A., Neighbourhood Watch meant the sign in a neighbour's window that told us our neighbours would keep an eye out for suspicious activity around our homes and neighbourhoods. As a child I thought it was just a cover for nosy neighbours to snoop with impunity. Now, as a homeowner and parent, I see that it was, and still is a terrific way to reduce crimes of opportunity in our communities.
The Neighbourhood Watch program educates residents how to make their homes less inviting to thieves, their personal property less desirable to burglars, and how to be alert to suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods. By participating in Neighbourhood Watch, individuals or families who leave their homes unattended for any length of time can feel safer and more secure.
I haven't heard much about Neighbourhood Watch lately, probably because our East Toronto communities are already quite safe so it becomes difficult to keep the program running. As much as we may feel that the problem has been solved, it's very important that we continue to work together, with the community and the police.
By getting involved, residents can improve home security, get to know their neighbours and learn what to do about suspicious events.
In addition to Neighbourhood Watch, you can also sign up for TPSlinks, the Toronto Police Services notification system to keep you informed about suspicious activity in your own neighbourhood.
How to Set up a Neighbourhood Watch in Your Community
If you live in the Beaches, Leslieville, Riverdale or Danforth East / Danforth Village, and would like more information on reviving a dormant Neighbourhood Watch or want to get involved, call (416) 225-1102 to speak with one of the community coordinators.
Here as some valuable pointers from the Toronto Police Services Neighbourhood Watch brochure:
If you see something suspicious:
Write down the description of any suspicious person. Get the make, model, colour, and licence number of strange vehicles. Call the police and other members of your Neighbourhood Watch Group immediately.
If you are going away, leave the following information with a trusted friend or neighbour:
- Where you are going
- How you can be reached, in case of emergency
- When you expect to turn
- If anybody will be at your home (gardener, repairperson)
- Leave a key with your neighbour.
- Keep an eye on strangers in your neighbourhood. The unauthorized candy seller or the teenager selling subscriptions may see an unanswered doorbell as the opportunity to enter an unsecured home.
- The person "taking a short-cut" through your backyard may have broken into your neighbour’s home. Don’t assume someone else has called... Call the Police immediately:
- Write down licence numbers and descriptions of strange vehicles parked at your neighbour’s house.
- Write down licence numbers and descriptions
- Vehicles passing by numerous times, suspiciously parked or constantly travelling alleyways.
- Good lock security
- Secure all doors and windows when house is unoccupied
- Let a trusted neighbour know when you are on vacation