Back in 1984, The National Crime Prevention Council deemed October Crime Prevention Month. In October, the Council asks citizens to re-examine their awareness on crime as they live, work, and play in their communities. Citizen awareness and involvement seems to be working.
The rate of property crimes in 1984 was 4.5%. In 2017, the rate of property crimes fell to 2.36%. Looking at a different source, In 1984, the United States saw a violent crime rate of 540 crimes per 100,000 people (0.540%), according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics report. In 2014, that number was at 376 crimes per 100,000 (0.376%).
The goal of the National Crime Prevention Council is to create safer communities across the country. The Council does this through a variety of community programs about gun safety, gang prevention, protecting kids and youth, cyber safety, and partnering with law enforcement to prevent crime.
According to a report from the University of Maryland at College Park prepared for the National Institute of Justice, family-based crime prevention can be an effective manner of crime prevention. As the report states, “Combining home-visit parental support with preschool education reduces crime committed by children when they grow up.”
How To Get Involved In National Crime Prevention Month
Keeping our kids and communities safe takes effort and involvement by every citizen in the communities where we live, work, and play. There are several different ways you can become involved in your community..
Talk to your neighbors
Neighborhood safety and security starts with getting to know your neighbors. You can do it face-to-face or use an online community such as a neighborhood Facebook page or Nextdoor. Talking with your neighbors helps to keep everyone informed of safety and security issues in your neighborhood and becomes a form of a “neighborhood watch,” where neighbors look out for each other and each other’s homes.
Host a community safety event/block party
Invite neighbors to attend a community safety event or block party. Ask McGruff the Crime Dog to attend for photo opportunities and to teach the kids about crime prevention. You can also invite your local police department to attend the event. They often bring patrol cars, motorcycles, and hand out goodies about how to prevent crime and stay safe.
Talk with the local police department
Contact your local police department. They know the needs for your community so they can help you identify ways you can help prevent crime or other ways you can contribute to your neighborhood and community.
They might suggest starting a neighborhood watch or installing a video surveillance system in or around your home. Invite them to give a talk in the community. Police officers can share the types of crimes that have been happening in your community, provide crime prevention tips and advice, and suggest ways residents in your community can work together to protect one another and prevent crime.
Many volunteer opportunities exist to get involved during Crime Prevention Month and throughout the year. Volunteer as a neighborhood watch coordinator or patrol. Post crime prevention tips and advice on your neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor page. Write tips and advice for safety, security, and crime prevention in your community newsletter.
Raise awareness of Halloween safety
Host a Halloween safety event. Have neighbors bring their kids to learn about how to be safe walking on the dark streets while trick-or-treating and how to check their candy before eating it. Provide a list of area doctors offices or clinics where kids can have their candy X-rayed. In lieu of trick-or-treating, you could host a Halloween block party where neighborhood kids play games, receive candy, and enjoy goodies in the safety of a neighborhood street or cul-de-sac.
Host a contest
Create a craft activity for neighborhood kids. Have them create art or crafts that display crime prevention ideas. You could also host a poster contest, where kids create a poster displaying McGruff the Crime Dog from the National Safety Council and illustrate crime prevention ideas. Award a prize to the top three contestants.
How To Help Prevent Crime At Home
Preventing crime in your community starts with your own home. Check for any areas of your home that are vulnerables, such as windows and doors. Make sure all of your doors and windows have working locks. Look for areas of your home or yard that might be too dark or allow for easy access for criminals to break into your home.
Once you identify vulnerable areas, you can take measures to protect your home by installing a monitored home security system, investing in surveillance cameras, and installing more lighting or motion sensor lighting around your home.
Educate your kids on security measures they can take to stay safe at home. They should always lock the door immediately behind them and arm the security system when they are home alone. They should never open the door to anyone when they are home alone.
Create an award chart, awarding points for locking the doors, setting the security alarm, and not answering the door for a stranger.
Everyone should avoid leaving doors and windows open, especially when nobody is home. When you’re away on vacation, make sure you put lights on automatic timers, set the alarm, and stop mail, newspaper, and package delivery so that it does not signal to a criminal that there is nobody home.
October of this year is a great time to take an audit of security vulnerabilities at your home and to put together a plan of action to correct these. These vulnerabilities might include:
- Not having adequate outdoor lighting
- Landscaping that is large and overgrown, making it easy for a potential criminal to hide
- Sliding glass doors are inherently vulnerable
- Research special locks for these doors to add security
- Push button locks on exterior doors
- Install deadbolt locks
- A vulnerability that not many people consider: Exterior door hinges
- Correct this so that all door hinges are on the inside so burglars can’t access
- Windows that are not locked or can be easily accessed
- The San Jose Police Department recommends drilling a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame and place a nail in the hole to secure the window.
Additional vulnerabilities and tips from the professionals can be found at this link