What if your home, business, or maybe your car was just broken into? You know you need to report the crime to the police, but wonder if one of your neighbors saw the criminal. Unfortunately, we don't know our neighbors.
The Bellingham Police Department, in partnership with Neighborhood Associations, local businesses and many of your neighbors will be hosting National Night Out events throughout the city of Bellingham. This will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have and to learn what steps you can take to prevent crime from happening. Our law enforcement officials have learned a great deal about how to prevent crime.
Let's start with what we need to do in our neighborhoods. The first step is to:
Lock it up. The majority of crime occurs because someone left a door or window unlocked, a valuable item in plain sight, or did not empty their mail box. Criminals love mail boxes, a car left unlocked is a great opportunity for a criminal, and your house can be a treasure chest of even more opportunities. So having a secure or even locking mail box along with having good locks on your home or business is extremely important. Do not give the criminal an opportunity to steal your identity or valuables.
Light it up. Not just your porch light, but image you are coming out of your business and walking across a parking lot to your car. It is important to see your car and be seen. What about if you fall down or feel a pain in your chest? Would it not be a good idea to be seen? Along with having a good, lighted area, first responders need to be able to see your house number clearly. Do you know if your house or business address numbers are clearly visible day and night?
Look and listen. Criminals do not like it when we work together! Image having an event, such as a barbecue, an ice cream social, or even a tea party to get to know your neighbors. Or better yet, hold an event and invite your local law enforcement official or maybe a politician or two. Sit down with your neighbor and tell them what has happen to you. Listen to what others have gone through. You may be surprise to learn you are not alone.
To learn more about the four Ls of the Block Watch program, or organizing a Block Watch in your neighborhood, or other crime prevention solutions go to the Bellingham Police Department website at cob.org/services/safety/police/blockwatch.aspx.
On Tuesday, Aug. 5, there will approximately 28 National Night Out events planned by citizens like you at a variety of places and different times throughout the city. The Downtown Bellingham Partnership and the city of Bellingham, along with the Lettered Streets Neighborhood Association will be sponsoring an event at the Maritime Heritage Park from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association will be hosting a barbeque/picnic at the Roosevelt Park from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Birchwood Neighborhood Association will be hosting a neighborhood picnic at Birchwood Part from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and there are many other events and social gatherings to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness. These events are designed to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and are fighting back!
To begin the celebration of National Night Out, there will be a kickoff event on Friday, Aug. 1 from noon until 6 p.m. at the Bellingham Police Department, 505 Grand Ave. Thanks to our partners Security Solutions, Target, Puget Sound Energy, Hempler's, Key Bank, WECU, and the Cascade Radio Group who will be doing a live broadcast, we will be having our own barbecue at the police station. This will be another great opportunity to learn what steps to take to prevent crime and how to deal with it after it as impacted you! So come and celebrate National Night Out by registering your event and pick up your free National Night Out 2014 materials.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John Courtney is Bellingham Police Department crime prevention officer and Richard Maneval is the National Night Out volunteer coordinator.