Editorial: Block Watch programs work

When a community knows that burglars are lurking about, residents pay more attention to details. Who's on vacation? What kind of car was cruising past their home or was in their driveway?

For several months, Williamson Valley residents have been on the lookout. Since at least June they have known that burglaries have been occurring.

One week ago authorities arrested a man and a woman. Detectives found items believed to be stolen in the suspects' car. They also found burglary tools and a pair of walkie-talkies.

As the news broke this past week, residents of Williamson Valley breathed a sigh of relief.

But wait a second. One arrest does not make the world safe again.

The bottom line is alert neighbors fed information to the police and Sheriff's Office. When something was amiss, they reported it. After the media published alerts, and the authorities notified neighborhood watch groups and mail carriers, about 25 to 30 people called the Sheriff's Office with tips.

It had the desired effect - a high level of concern from residents, said Dwight D'Evelyn, the Sheriff's spokesman. "It really got people focused on knowing what's going on and who's going in and out of their neighborhood," he said.

This is a lesson in observation as well as self-preservation. All communities should always be on the lookout for "what's not right."

Block Watch programs fight the isolation and separation that crime creates and feeds upon, it forges bonds among area residents and businesses, helps reduce burglaries and other crime, and improves relations between the police and the communities they serve.

To find out information about how to start your own Block Watch, contact your law enforcement agency. Call 777-1988 (Prescott), 772-5117 (Prescott Valley), 636-4223 (Chino Valley) or 771-3260 (Sheriff's Office).