This article is an excerpt from the National Crime Prevention Council's strategy for crime reduction. This valuable information can also be found on the NCPC's website, but is posted here for your convenience. The NCPC believes that by addressing several different key components of their strategy an overall reduction in the crime rate can be realized.
Promotion of home and business security systems helps prevent property crime, educates residents, and encourages creation of neighborhood organizations.
Crime Problem Addressed
High rates of burglary, theft, and vandalism contribute to declining property values and tend to isolate residents who live in fear of victimization. This strategy reduces crimes against homes and businesses by disseminating information and products that protect those structures from unlawful entry.
A key component of this strategy is public recognition that easy targets contribute to higher crime rates and that security devices in homes and businesses impede access and help reduce crime. Measures to improve security include common-sense precautions by police and community groups; security surveys of residences and businesses by police officers; assistance to victims of crime and elderly residents who cannot pay for additional security measures; donations of security services and products from area companies and community groups; and public information--to inform homeowners, businesses, and community groups--about crime prevention and the availability of crime prevention devices.
The central partnership is between the police and the community groups that want to implement this strategy. Other key groups are business associations, homeowners and homeowner associations, and crime-victim support groups. The media--radio, television, newspapers--make effective partners in informing the public and generating support for the project in the community.
Home and business owners may lack information on devices and strategies that can increase security. Another potential obstacle for low-income residents and crime victims is the cost of security devices; sometimes this problem can be overcome with local government funds or donations from corporations or community groups.
Signs of Success
Police departments across the country send officers to Neighborhood Watch groups and homeowner association meetings to explain how simple steps--such as a dead-bolt lock and peep holes in front and rear doors--can deter would-be criminals from gaining entry.
In 1984, St. Louis, Missouri, launched Operation Safe Street with the slogan "Neighbors Standing Together Against Crime." The city urged all residents to install basic home security systems and keep porch lights on from dusk to dawn. New traffic flow patterns created a stronger sense of community and helped residents identify suspicious persons. In its second four-year phase, the city initiated a Home Security and Burglary Victims Program, supported by a nonprofit coalition of security professionals. Trained crews installed dead-bolt locks, peep holes, window bars, and other security devices in residential homes. This service cost $150 per home, but was free for the elderly and for crime victims. From 1980 to 1990, residential burglaries declined by nearly 50 percent, and automobile thefts also decreased.
Applying the Strategy
Seniors involved in the Retired Senior Volunteer Project (RSVP) of the Corporation for National and Community Service provided free in-home security assessments for their Phoenix, Arizona, neighbors during the nationwide Summer of Safety in 1994. Pairs of trained senior volunteers visited the homes of nearly a thousand area residents, offering advice on security improvements, examples of other burglary prevention techniques, and information on local crime watch and senior assistance programs available through the city and community-based organizations. Many residents reported that the visits from peers reduced their fear and equipped them to make decisions on increasing home safety.