Neighborhood Watch the eyes and ears of law enforcement

Published 8:32 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nationwide statistics show a 65 percent reduction in crimes where Neighborhood Watches are in effect.

That was the encouraging news that Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas had for the 32 Goshen residents who gathered for the community’s second Neighborhood Watch meeting Tuesday night at Goshen Town Hall.

“The Neighborhood Watch is a way to build a strong relationship between the community and law enforcement,” Thomas said. “The neighborhood becomes our eyes and ears. We have Neighborhood Watches throughout Pike County, and we’ve been successful in gaining useful information through this means.”

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Neighborhood Watches are active in Tennille, Tarentum, Briar Hill, Shady Grove, Needmore, Goshen, Good Hope, Shellhorn, Ansley, Banks, Ebenezer, Meeksville, China Grove, Spring Hill and Henderson.

“We put up signs in the neighborhoods to let any perpetrator know that someone is watching,” Thomas said.

“People usually know what kind of car their neighbors drive, what time they routinely leave for work and what time they get home and are familiar with activity around their houses. Anything out of the ordinary would arouse suspicion in a Neighborhood Watch.”

Thomas said anyone who notices suspicious activity in a neighborhood should get a description of the vehicle and a tag number if possible and a description of anyone on the premises.

“Recently, we were able to solve a case because we were given a description of a vehicle,” he said.

“The vehicle was stopped by law enforcement in Montgomery and property stolen in Pike County was recovered. Neighborhood Watches provide pieces to a puzzle and help us put it all together.”

Goshen Mayor Jack Waller cited a recent incident where a four-wheeler was recovered due to the curious nature of a neighbor.

“He noticed a blue truck pulling out of a neighbor’s drive with a four-wheeler on the back,” Waller said. “He thought someone was probably borrowing the four-wheeler but got a description of the truck anyway.”

Had the neighbor not been “watchful,” the stolen four-wheeler might never have been recovered.

Waller said the Neighborhood Watch also provides an increased sense of security in neighborhoods.

“We had a large number of women who live alone at the Tuesday meeting,” he said.

“They had a quite a few questions about everything from ID theft to break-ins.”

Waller said one alarming incident that Thomas related was of a woman who was being watched as she retrieved her house key from its secret “hiding” place and returned it after unlocking the door.

“Someone was watching and came back that night, got the key, unlocked the door and actually stole a necklace from around the woman’s neck while she slept.”

Waller said no one can be too careful when it comes to home safety.

“We don’t have a lot of criminal activity in Goshen but we don’t want any,” he said.

“The Neighborhood Watch is one way that we can discourage that kind of activity.”

Anyone who notices any kind of suspicious activity should alert the Pike County Sheriff’s Department at 566-4347.