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Neighborhood Watch programs on islands

April 30, 2014
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Town Watch, Crime Watch ... whatever the name it's one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear in your neighborhood.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office instituted a Neighborhood Watch program in 1972. Since then Neighborhood Watch's have been sprouting up all over Lee County including Pine Island. According to the Lee County Sheriff's Department there are 5 active Neighborhood Watch programs on the island.

Bokeelia, Matlacha and St. James City all have Neighborhood Watch programs. Neighborhood Watch programs are started for a variety of reasons but are usually started after a number of crimes occur in a single neighborhood: tools stolen from a garage, a stolen lawn mower, gasoline stolen from a parked vehicle, vandalism and even burglary.

It has been statistically proven that Neighborhood Watch programs are an effective method of crime prevention; they also educate group members about what security measures are effective and ineffective; members become better informed about what is happening in their neighborhood; and they are a good tool for dealing with barking dog problems, abandoned vehicles, run down properties, and other issues that attract criminal activity.

Neighborhood Watch is a volunteer citizen program of mutual assistance among neighbors aimed at reducing crime in the neighborhood at a grass roots level. The Lee County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit offers training in the watch program and neighborhood security. The Sheriff's Office will assign one or two officers to conduct a meeting to explain what a Watch Program is. You and your neighbors will learn:

What is suspicious activity?

How to report suspicious activity.

Creating a telephone chain.

Operation Identification.

Home security surveys.

Neighborhood Watch Leadership.

For more information, contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office Community Relations Office at 239-477-1400. The Lee County Sheriff's Office has Crime Prevention Specialists available to answer questions.



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