A Neighborhood crime watch, also called a crime watch or neighborhood watch, is an organized group of citizens devoted to crime and vandalism prevention within a neighborhood. A neighborhood watch may be organized as its own group or may simply be a function of a neighborhood association or other community association.
In South Carolina a group of concerned citizens created a crime watch organization called UNCLE. That stands for United Network of Communities on Law and Enforcement.
The members of UNCLE drive around reporting suspicious behavior. If something looks out of place, they write it down and call the police. If there are suspicious vacant houses or too many cars in a yard or trash piles, they write it down and report it. If they see a suspected drug house they find the owners name and report it. If they see cars parked out front they get the license plates and report them.
UNCLE has the feel of the “Broken Windows Theory” that was deployed in New York City and is often credited with its safe city status today.
The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm setting and signaling effects of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime.
None of this is “vigilantism” but more like the Department of Homeland Security’s slogan “If you see something say something” Remember, we are all in this together. Your participation in your communities’ safety and security is essential to the security of us all.