Watching out for the Neighborhood

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One of the reasons I moved to Newport Beach a number of years ago was to live in a safe neighborhood. It’s probably something we all have in common.

About a month ago I received some startling news when several neighbors had their houses broken into.

In one case, the thieves parked their vehicle in the driveway, hopped a locked gate that included a “Beware of Dog” sign and entered through an opened back window screen.

They got away with the usual – jewelry, electronics and credit information.

In the other incident, the potential thief knocked and when no one answered he simply kicked in the front door.

Fortunately, in that case, someone was home and upon hearing the noise she screamed at the intruder and he in turn walked out. Now, hear me right: he “walked” out. Not running, not jogging. Walking.

That’s scary.

So my neighborhood decided to take some action and the rest of the city should take notice. It’s a program we’ve all heard about called Neighborhood Watch.

It’s pretty simple, you get to know your neighbors, what they drive, then you communicate with them and watch out for each other.

In our area the Newport Beach Police Department has helped us. Here’s how it works.

Notices were delivered to each house and we met, sitting on beach chairs, in one of the neighbor’s driveways. The PD showed up, the donuts obviously helping (just kidding), and they led us through steps to better secure our neighborhood.

Some of the ideas:

No. 1 on the list was to try and eliminate solicitors. You know the type, magazines, candy for inner-city youth programs, etc.

In order to stop them you simply register on the city website and post a “No Soliciting” sign near your front door.

Now, it becomes illegal for someone to come to your door to try and sell you something.

If someone does knock, they are breaking the law and you can call the police.

But, it doesn’t prevent the neighbor kids from selling me their wrapping paper or some Girl Scout cookies.

It also makes it illegal for someone to put their business cards or notices in your doorjamb selling their tree cutting or garden services.

Other steps included locking gates, putting dowels in window sills to prevent them from being opened too wide, to utilizing 3-inch screws in door jambs to strengthen them.

Everyone reading this should take heed, for if we all attempt to secure our residences, it will drive would-be thieves elsewhere.

Here’s what you can do: Call the Newport Beach Police Department and they will come out and give you a free home security inspection. They will also help you form your own Neighborhood Watch that can keep you and your “hood” in the know about what’s going on elsewhere in town.

Trust me, after talking to one of my neighbors who was hit, waiting to take action is not the way to do things.

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