Nobody wants to be the neighborhood busybody, but it's good to get to know your neighbors. Not only could you start a new friendship, you could help make your home and your neighborhood safer. And while it's not always easy to get to know your neighbors, there can be safety advantages to building relationships with a few trusted neighbors.
Here are 10 ways neighbors can help keep homes and neighborhoods safer.
1. Trusted neighbors provide a good option for holding spare keys.
When you are on friendly terms with a trustworthy neighbor, you can exchange spare keys. This can help prevent a lockout and the subsequent call to a locksmith, and you can have your neighbor check whether you turned off your coffee pot or locked the back door.
2. Even people who do not get out much can provide valuable information.
People who are at home a lot may know quite a bit about what's normal and what's not in your neighborhood. Befriend one of these people and they will be comfortable telling you if, for example, an unidentified truck or van parks in front of your house.
3. When neighbors know each other, it's easier to keep the block looking nice.
A neighborhood litter pick-up day helps neighbors meet each other and improves the look of the neighborhood. The "broken windows theory" of criminal behavior has shown that maintaining a well-tended neighborhood can help keep a lid on crime.
4. Planning "natural access control" between neighbors improves security for both.
A row of holly trees or other prickly plants between your home and a neighbor's limits yard-to-yard access and can improve home security. You may be able to get immediate neighbors to contribute to such a project.
5. Neighbors provide backup when you're having mail or newspapers held.
It's smart to have mail and papers held when you travel, but having a neighbor check anyway is a good idea. Mistakes happen, and your neighbor can collect stray mail, papers or door-handle flyers to maintain the appearance that someone has been home regularly.
6. Neighbors can help your home look occupied when you're away.
Having a trusted neighbor periodically move your car in your driveway, park their car in your driveway or make tire tracks on your driveway after a snowfall in your absence can help your house appear occupied when you're away.
7. A good neighbor can see that your yard is mowed or snow shoveled while you're away.
Give your neighbor the number of the person responsible for mowing while you're away, in case they don't show up. Keeping your yard neat and sidewalks cleared help your home appear occupied.
8. Sharing home services can improve overall neighborhood safety.
Outdoor lighting can be a great deterrent to break-ins. If you're hiring a contractor to add exterior lighting, why not ask neighbors if they would be interested in hiring the same contractor since he will be in the neighborhood anyway? You could increase neighborhood security for multiple households this way.
9. Knowing what's going on is empowering.
The occasional chat with a neighbor can tip you off to lots of things you might not otherwise learn. For example, someone on the block may have had a break-in and knowing this can prompt you to redouble home security measures.
10. Neighborhood cohesiveness improves safety and livability.
A positive sense of community is associated with lower neighborhood crime rates, according to a study by Old Dominion University. Looking out for your neighbors and knowing they're looking out for you can help keep crime rates down, as well as make your neighborhood a more pleasant place to live.
Learn from home security tips from homeowners themselves