Over a dozen West Jefferson citizens attended the Community Watch Program meeting at Town Hall on Thursday evening to enjoy a home cooked meal and learn how they can protect themselves and their homes from future break-ins.
It was the third meeting since the program was started by the West Jefferson Police Department, under the direction of Capt. Jason Finney.
Following a “pot luck” dinner, Finney began the evening’s program, which was dubbed “Target Hardening”, with a PowerPoint presentation that provided information on how townspeople can safeguard their homes against intruders while vacationing or while staying at home. According to statistics that Finney provided, two out of every three burglaries are committed at a residence and 60 percent of those occur during the daytime.
Finney explained that the objective of the presentation was to arm citizens with information that they could use to “secure their property” which in turn would make it “more difficult for them to commit crimes.” He said that criminals are always searching an “easy mark” and will typically spend only 60 seconds trying to break into a home before they give up and look elsewhere.
During the hour and a half long presentation, Finney provided information on how citizens can properly secure their home’s doors and door frames, windows, garages, and other points of entry. He stressed the importance of door viewfinders, exterior and interior lighting, and urged attendees to consider installing double cylinder dead bolts that could serve as another obstacle that potential perpetrators would overcome while trying to break into a home.
The WJPD also offered tips on how locals could avoid some of the dead giveaways that intruders search for when trying to decide which home to target. Having a neighbor pick-up one’s newspapers and mail, to prevent doorstep clutter, as well as turning off porch lights during the day time will keep a home from standing out to potential criminals. Leaving a radio on and closing the house’s curtains are other tactics citizens can use to prevent homes from becoming targeted, Finney explained.
Home security systems could also reduce the chance of a successful break-in but a simple ‘community watch’ sign or a sticker merely indicating the presence of a system would not suffice.
“If it was up to me everyone would have one (an alarm system),” Finney explained. “But there was to be a backing behind one, not just a scarecrow. The farmer has to come through every once in a while with a shot gun to shoot a few crows.”
One of the program’s central themes was communication. Finney said that communication within the community and “learning from past crimes will make a difference” in the watch program.
“We won’t win all of the battles but we will win this war if we keep at it,” he said.
Finney, who at this point has not determined the topic for the next meeting, said that it will take a community effort in order for the program to become successful.
“I’m happy with the direction it is going, I would like to see more people involved and I think a big part of why we don’t have a bigger turnout is that people don’t know what to expect,” Finney said. “They are not sure what will be asked of them or what commitment they will have to have to the group. But to me, it’s a basic concept of a community working together to prevent crime, nothing more, nothing else. “
For more information on how to become involved with the Community Watch Program, please contact Capt. Finney at (335) 246-9410 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.