Back in the 1980s, McGruff the Crime Dog taught children and parents alike to “Take a bite out of crime.” The tough but affable, anthropomorphic bloodhound was created by the Ad Council for the National Crime Prevention Council and used by police officers to build crime awareness programs among American families. McGruff’s mission is essentially the same as countless proactive homeowner associations nationwide—sniffing out criminals.
Value in Security
According to Neighborhoodscout.com, there is good reason for vigilance. Depending on where you live in New Jersey crime rates can be quite high. For example, if you live in Jersey City, recent annual statistics found that there were 1,829 violent crimes and 5,997 property crimes in Jersey City. With nearly a more than a quarter million residents, the chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime is 1 in 136 while the property crime rate is 1 in 41.
The severity of crime statistics varies by region but crime will occur regardless of location which is why a homeowner association watch group is critical. “Criminals know now that citizens have organized and are watching, that really is a great deterrent to stopping crimes. People watching out for other people is a great deterrent. Having a community watch group is really effective,” says Attorney James Marotta of Totowa. “Crime is not limited to the cities, it's everywhere, we have to develop deterrence.”
“Just because you're in a protected condo, or not living in the city, is not a reason to think you're safe,” says Joseph Hoban, a retired police captain from Paterson and now a security consultant. “Neighbors should watch out for one another. That's the way it was when I grew up, and people should still do that. To beat a dead horse, 'If you see something, say something.' Neighbors have to watch out and should call 911 if they see something. More often than not they are right in their suspicions.”
For many homeowners associations, there is a false sense of security resulting from otherwise proactive, visible security measures such as expensive cameras and other technologies. And whereas one might think that more crime happens at night, in certain communities, watch groups patrol in larger numbers during the day.