Want to know an insider’s secret to one of the best, cheapest, and simplest forms of home security?
Get to know your neighbors.
Sounds too simple to be true, right? However, in today’s increasingly individualized social lifestyle, neighbors have become less of the friendly faces next door and more of just occupants of the property adjacent to yours, which leaves your home more at risk to home invasion, fire, and vandalism.
One of the best things that came with our house was our elderly neighbor. He introduced himself right away, told us when trash day was, who the other neighbors were, and offered to help us with anything. And helpful he has been. We tell him when we’re going out of town and who’ll be over to watch our animals, and he keeps track of who comes and goes. We keep a spare set of house keys with him just in case we lock ourselves out (again). And when he needs help taking groceries up from his car, we’re right there to help. He was there when eight months pregnant, I fell on the ice on the sidewalk, ready to call an ambulance if I needed it. And when he got an infection in his hand, I was at his door with pre-cooked meals for him so he didn’t have to cook. It may seem a little old-fashioned, but if our neighbor has taught us anything, it’s the genuine value of a friendly face on the other side of the fence.
The thing is, that old adage about children – that it takes a village to raise them – rings true for home security as well. It takes a neighborhood to protect a home, and as a member of that neighborhood, it may rest upon you to take that first step to building a safer community.
A simple and effective method for building a friendly repertoire with your street-mates is to introduce yourself. I know, with everyone’s hectic schedules and lives it may be hard to organize a face-to-face meeting, so just leave a friendly note in their mailbox, or even stick a note on their front door introducing yourself. So what if you’ve lived next door to them for ten years? A little humor and humility can go a long way. Don’t forget to leave your phone number or your email address as contact information, and maybe offer to be around for anything your neighbor might need – help mowing the grass, babysitting, a cup of sugar, anything.
Look into whether or not your area has a neighborhood watch program – if it does, consider joining it as an easy way to meet your neighbors and keep an eye on your community. If you don’t have one, consider starting one – The National Crime Prevention Council has great tips on how to here. Or try to take advantage of community events at your local library, community center, or even things like beggar’s night to get out and meet the people you live near.
The benefits of knowing your neighbors are near endless. Besides the perk of extra eyes watching your property and your family, your neighbors have the potential to be a fountain of usefulness. They may have the exact tool you need for a project; be the extra pair of hands you need to lift something heavy; or have kids the same age as yours that just go to a different school. In getting to know your neighbors, you have the potential to build a stronger and safer community while building the foundation for in-real-life social networking. And in these times, we could all use people to lean on for a favor or just a low-key get together. Besides, you never know when you may need a friendly face on the other side of your fence, ready and willing to help a friend.