Helpful tips from Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul
Watch Groups (Part 2)
Last month, this column focused on the importance of creating watch groups in local neighborhoods to deter crime. We covered the benefits of establishing such a group and the organization and structure of the group. This month, I would like to cover the specific things that the group should be watching out for, and the proper response to suspicious activity.
There are three main areas that your group needs to focus on; Suspicious people, suspicious vehicles, and suspicious activity. Suspicious people are individuals who sometimes team up on a home by sending one person to the front door to distract the homeowner while the other individual goes into their backyard or garage. A suspicious person may also be someone who hangs around a public park or neighborhood school possibly looking for the next child to molest or abduct.
Suspicious persons could be individuals going from car to car, or house to house, looking into the windows; going door to door selling goods or services; or running down an alley or street. Suspicious vehicles will sometimes make repeated trips through the neighborhood at a slow pace. It could be someone looking for younger children to abduct or possibly looking for the next prospective home to burglarize.
The sound of breaking glass or loud banging could be a sign that your neighbor’s house is being broken into. Suspicious activity could be the removal of property from a house where no one is currently at home. Another sign of suspicious activity may be the coming and going of several individuals into a house throughout the day and night. This could be a sign of drug activity. Sometimes the gathering of large groups of kids and/or teenagers dressed in similar clothing, congregating in alleys or abandoned yards may be the possible sign of street gang activity. Suspicious activity may be graffiti painted on buildings, houses, or even the road or street signs.
So what should you do if you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood? Remain calm and call the police. Tell the dispatcher the location of the suspicious activity and the race and sex of the suspicious persons. Also give the dispatcher the approximate age and/or description such as clothing, hair color, and height and weight. Advise the dispatcher of any weapons you may have seen. Also give the make and model of automobile, the color, and, if possible, the license plate number. Inform the dispatcher of the known number of suspicious persons involved in the activity. This information is vital for the safety and welfare of the responding officer. Never hesitate to call law enforcement officials if you see anything suspicious – even if you think it might turn out to be nothing. You can never take anything lightly when it comes to dealing with the safety and welfare of your neighborhood. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
No matter whether you live in the city or out in the county, we are all at risk of becoming a victim of crime. Working together, we can make a difference for the better. If you have any questions, please feel free to call my office.