Who Watches the Watchmen? The 411 on Neighborhood Watches

 Back in the 1980s, McGruff the Crime Dog taught children and parents alike to “Take a bite out of crime.” The tough but affable, anthropomorphic bloodhound was created by the Ad Council  for the National Crime Prevention Council and used by police officers to build  crime awareness programs among American families. McGruff’s mission is essentially the same as countless proactive homeowner associations  nationwide—sniffing out criminals.  

 Value in Security

 According to Neighborhoodscout.com, there is good reason for vigilance. For  example, recent annual statistics found that there were 28,415 violent crimes  and 120,616 property crimes in the city of Chicago. With nearly three million  residents, the chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime is 1 in 94 while  the property crime rate is 1 in 37.  

 The severity of crime statistics varies by region but crime will occur  regardless of location which is why a homeowner association watch group is  critical. “The good news is that watch groups are probably a strong step in reducing crime  because criminals tend to be aware of those communities that have a watch  group,” says Attorney Gerald Cassioppi of the Naperville-based law firm of Nyberg & Cassioppi. “There is crime everywhere so you have to do what you can.”  

 “This is a big city, and bad things can happen,” says Officer Ricardo Contreras, field coordinator for Chicago Alternative  Policing Strategy (CAPS). “Those in a community have to be vigilant and call 911 should they see something  out of the ordinary because nine out of ten times they are right.”  

 For many homeowners associations, there is a false sense of security resulting  from otherwise proactive, visible security measures such as expensive cameras  and other technologies. And whereas one might think that more crime happens at  night, in certain communities, watch groups patrol in larger numbers during the  day.  

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