What Is a Neighborhood Crime Watch?

SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review. We may earn money when you buy through our links.

A neighborhood crime watch is a group of concerned citizens who work together with law enforcement to help keep their neighborhood safe. The National Sheriff’s Association and the Department of Justice implemented a national Neighborhood Watch program in 1972.

Protect your property
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get the latest deals, home security tips, and in-depth reviews.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

How the program works

The program relies on volunteers to patrol neighborhoods in an effort to discourage criminal activity. Neighborhood Watch volunteers receive training about crime prevention from local law enforcement and work to add an extra layer of security to their neighborhood. Weapons are not used in conjunction with the program, and volunteers are discouraged from using weapons even if they legally possess them.

Crime watch programs encourage neighbors to get to know one another, making it easier to identify a car or person that is out of place. Doing this can also help neighbors feel more comfortable reporting a problem or sharing concerns with one another.

In addition to patrols, neighborhoods with watch programs are typically marked by signs that let people know the area is being monitored.

Success of Neighborhood Watch programs

Even though it’s difficult to measure the success of Neighborhood Watch programs, the U.S. Department of Justice found that “citizen policing programs are associated with a significant reduction in crime.” Areas with crime watch programs tend to see fewer burglaries than areas without. Success has been credited to the fact that watch programs work to stop the crime from happening, rather than focusing on changing the behavior of the criminal.

Joining the Neighborhood Watch

To find out if there is a crime watch group in your neighborhood, start by contacting your home owners association or local law enforcement agency. They will be able to direct you to the captain of your local watch group. The captain will let you know about upcoming meetings and help you receive the training required to join patrols.

How to start a Neighborhood Watch

If there isn’t a watch group already established in your neighborhood, it’s easy to start one. Here are the steps you need to follow to add the security of a crime watch group to your neighborhood.

  1. Contact your neighbors. Let others in your neighborhood know that you’d like to start a crime watch group and ask them to join you.
  2. Reach out to law enforcement. Once you have recruited neighbors, contact local law enforcement. Share your intention to start a group and ask them to help by attending your first meeting and providing general training for all volunteers.
  3. Identify concerns. During your initial meetings ask neighbors to share any concerns they have about crime and safety in the neighborhood. Try to narrow it down to the top two or three concerns your group wants to address.
  4. Create a plan. It is important to outline how your watch group can help alleviate concerns. You should include a communication plan for what to do in the event of an emergency or incident, scheduled patrols, additional training, and crime prevention education for members of the community.
  5. Establish a schedule. Plan regular meetings and schedule some neighborhood events. Work with law enforcement to arrange a block party to let the whole neighborhood know about your group and how they can get involved.

If you want to make a difference in your community, Neighborhood Watch is an effective way to work with your neighbors to help fight crime and increase safety.


Compare the best home security systems

Brand
Installation
Monthly cost bullet
Best for
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibility bullet
Learn more
ProfessionalBest professional home security$599.00No *Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
ProfessionalMost trusted security brand$0.00YesAmazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
DIY or ProBest customer ratingQuote requiredNo *Amazon, Google
Ring
DIYBest budget-friendly pick$199.99NoAmazon, Google, Z-Wave
DIY or ProBest DIY home security$245.00NoAmazon,
Google

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.
Full ADT disclaimer

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help everyone find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. In her free time, she volunteers at the local botanical garden and writers for the community newspaper.

Recent Articles

woman adjusting thermostat in bright home
Best Home Security Systems
After thousands of hours of tests and research, we picked Vivint and SimpliSafe as the...
Man and woman couple wife husband set up surveillance security camera
Best Apartment Security Systems
These renter-friendly apartment security systems help keep you safe and require less commitment than your...
diy-security-system-on-ipad
Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2024
SimpliSafe is the best DIY home security system because it's cost-efficient, effective, and easy to...
medical alert products on an illustrated background
Best Medical Alert Systems
See which medical alert system is the best to keep you and your loved one...