You Watch My Back, I'll Watch Yours: How Setting Up a Neighborhood Watch Program Can Protect You and Your Neighbors

Although the catch phrase "Neighborhood Watch" didn't get coined until the early 1970s, its concept dates as far back as the colonial days. Back then, devoted watchmen took to the streets each night as a way to prevent crime and keep their communities safe.

Our modern version of Neighborhood Watch got its start when police of various law enforcement agencies collaborated to find a way to get citizens more involved in crime prevention. It was from there that the Neighborhood Watch program was developed.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, Neighborhood Watch took off quickly, with 12% of the population involved in the program in the first ten years.

The success of today's Neighborhood Watch programs relies on citizens coming together and working alongside their local police officials to keep watch over their communities. As simple as it sounds, Neighborhood Watch has proven to be one of the most effective methods in preventing and reducing crime.

The purpose of a Neighborhood Watch program is not to have citizens of the community take the law into their own hands, but instead to encourage everyone to watch each other's back by being alert and observant, and notifying the police of any suspicious activities or crimes.

There are many benefits to having a Neighborhood Watch program in place. Such benefits include:

  • a reduction in crime
  • improved communication
  • a greater sense of community and safety
  • improved relationships with neighbors and local law enforcement

Neighborhood Watch programs work because they reduce the number of opportunities a criminal has to commit a crime. Instead of relying on changing or altering a criminal's behavior or morals, the program deters criminals by letting them know that eyes are watching.

Setting up a Neighborhood Watch program is not difficult. It's just a matter of one individual or family caring enough to spread the word about the benefits of the program.

The following are some tips on how to initiate a successful Neighborhood Watch program in your neighborhood.


Step 1: Talk with your neighbors about setting up a Neighborhood Watch and recruit as many as possible. Someone has to get the ball rolling, so it might as well be you. The first step is to talk with each of your neighbors about your interest in setting up a Neighborhood Watch. If possible, type up a short description of the purpose of the program and post it in the neighborhood's newsletter, place a flier in the mailboxes, and/or have fellow neighbors spread the word.

Keep in mind that you will have greater success in getting people involved if you speak with them in person or on the phone. If you simply leave a letter or flyer on someone's doorstep, you risk it not being read, set aside and forgotten about, or thrown away.

Step 2: Schedule a neighborhood meeting. Once you have your neighbors on board, work out a date and time that is convenient for everyone to get together. The purpose of the meeting should be to discuss concerns that you and your neighbors have about the level and types of crime in your community, as well as to establish a written plan for your Neighborhood Watch program.

Step 3: Invite two or three local security vendors to demonstrate their products. There are numerous home security devices on the market, many of which homeowners don't even know about. Inviting some of your local security vendors to demonstrate their products is a great way to educate yourself and your neighbors on how to better protect yourself against an intruder.

Before inviting any security vendor, be sure to check them out on your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. Also, be sure to ask the vendor about group discounts. For example, what is the discount if each homeowner decides to purchase a security door brace, deadbolt, or alarm system?

Step 4: Collaborate with your local police department. For a Neighborhood Watch program to be truly successful, it needs to work as a partnership with its local police department. Most law enforcement agencies have appointed crime prevention officers. Their job is to educate residents and businesses of the community about crime and how to prevent it. Inviting a crime prevention officer to speak at one of your meetings is a great way to fortify your Neighborhood Watch program and establish a solid relationship with your local police officials.

Step 5: Display signage at every entrance of your neighborhood to show that a Neighborhood Watch program is in place. Once your program is established, it's important to let outsiders know that there is an active Neighborhood Watch in place. Pre-made Neighborhood Watch signs are inexpensive and can be easily obtained from local police departments and/or home security vendors.

Having a Neighborhood Watch program in place can go a long way in helping to ward off would-be intruders. When criminals see the signs, they'll immediately know that you're watching your neighbors back and your neighbor is watching yours. This will help deter criminals, as the risk of getting caught outweighs the benefit of carrying out a crime on your turf.

Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.

Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:

The American Society for Industrial Security.

The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.

The Society of Professional Locksmiths.