Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



 Neighborhood Crime Prevention
     A most effective way of dealing with crime problems!!

  • Establish a Neighborhood Watch Program where residents are alert to notice suspicious activities during both daytime and night hours. This is where neighbors check in periodically (daily) with senior citizens and others who are shut-ins; it is everyone being concerned about the well-being of the neighborhood and its residents against criminals.


    • Report to police, for example, someone operating as a door-to-door "salesman" who tries the doorknobs on doors and peeks into windows.


    • Report someone checking cars, looking into car windows and trying car doors along the street or parking lot.


    • Report someone lurking in the darkness, in bushes or out of sight who is a stranger to the neighborhood.


    • When reporting, make certain you have a good description of the person or persons and last location or direction of travel.


    • Be mindful of movement in your neighborhood, especially at night hours: someone taking that "shortcut" across your neighbor's lawn may be a burglar who just burglarized your neighbor's house.


    • If you observe (during any time) someone carrying an object, such as TV or some other valuable, down the street or loading it into a car (and the person is not known to you) report it promptly to police-give description, car description and license number, direction of travel, etc.


    • It could be perfectly innocent-could also be a burglar leaving with the stolen goods; many such burglaries happen right under peoples' noses.
  • Know your police number-keep it posted by all your telephones (there are stickers provided by the Rotary Club for this purpose at no cost to you).


  • Form a neighborhood organization to deal with crime problems (and other neighborhood concerns too!) and follow the guidelines in this chapter about the various activities that can be undertaken.


  • Such a neighborhood group can start with you and just one or two neighbors; invite others by circulating a paper to people on the block announcing a meeting hour some evening at one of your homes or the local church and start from there.


  • Conduct a neighborhood crime prevention class covering many of the items in this handbook; invite a police representative (and preferably have the neighborhood beat cop present) to discuss concerns and what police and residents can do together.


  • Educate neighborhood residents about the various state, city, and borough laws about problems (such as noise, harassment, etc.) and teach them what can be done-through individual or association action.


  • Stay informed about crime problems via the news media and attend neighborhood and other meetings of citizenry.


  • Check the "moving van" that is at a neighbor's home if you did not know the person was moving; it may be a bold burglar emptying someone's house-this happens more often than you think!


  • Whistle-Stop Program: Buy a whistle for every resident of the area (especially for women to carry with them); blow the whistle when a crime occurs-that will be everyone's signal to come to help or call the police. It also scares away the criminal.


  • Witness Advocate Program: This is very important . . . it is a citizen effort to keep track of witnesses (and victims) of crime to make sure they get to the district justice hearing and court trial and, in order to make sure the witness gets there, provide transportation, baby-sitting service or even accompany the person to the hearing or trial for moral support. Encourage persons to file charges if a criminal act has been committed and encourage them to appear as witnesses or to be interviewed by the police. No criminal will be convicted (and crime will not be stopped) by people unwilling or afraid to testify. Stand up for your rights! Giving this support and encouragement to your neighbors and fellow citizens will guarantee their participation in the legal process and in the fight to stop or prevent crime.


  • Obey the law: To help decrease crime, every person should set an example by obeying all the laws individually.


  • Insist on, help develop, chaperon and assist in having recreation and other pursuits for the young people of your neighborhood; be concerned about their activities and what they are doing. Support clubs and organizations that work with young people.
  • Provide an escort service for women and senior citizens in your neighborhood to aid them in getting safely to and from the grocery store, etc.


  • Remember: criminals are made, not born. The root causes of crime must also be dealt with: unguided and troubled youth; parents who do not care about their children; poor housing and ghetto conditions; discrimination, lack of job opportunities, drug addiction, lack of educational and other opportunities; governmental officials who fail or refuse to do their jobs due to self-interest; disinterest or conflicts of interest. Address these problems as a neighborhood and as an individual in many ways: letters to the editor, petitions to local officials, organizing neighborhood programs dealing with such problems . . . and . . . register and vote! Politicians listen to voters before they listen to anyone else.


  • Consider having "beat captains" . . . someone in the neighborhood (can be done on a rotating basis) whose duty is to carry out the neighborhood organization's various activities (including the neighborhood watch program, etc.) to guarantee effective follow - up to neighborhood goals and plans. Once a group has been started, it is highly important that some results be seen or some people will lose interest or consider it "just another group talking about problems."


  • Follow-up on reported crimes to make sure action has been taken.


  • Identify causes of neighborhood deterioration: pot holes, poor street lighting, rats, drugs, abandoned housing. Work to solve them, getting appropriate agencies to help!


  • Discourage vandalism and mischief by children to both public and private property (including recreational equipment and supplies) and vacant homes; don't sit idly by while, for example, someone throws a stone at a vacant home's window, etc.


  • Operation Neighborhood Clean-Up: repair porches, plant flowers, paint the outside of homes and steps, sweep sidewalks, clear out trash, bottles, broken glass, etc. The city can and will provide the trash truck to haul it away. Get everyone into the neighborhood spirit.


  • After the clean-up operation, organize a rummage sale or flea market open to the public where discarded, old or not needed items from peoples' homes can be sold.


  • When a neighborhood resident goes on vacation, arrange to watch their home, take in their mail or do other things to prevent a would-be burglar from knowing they are not at home.


  • Make visits to the people who are sick on the block-let them know you are concerned.


  • Welcome new neighbors personally and invite them to the next block meeting.


  • Sponsor a neighborhood block party or barbecue for everyone young and old; organize an outing for the youth of the neighborhood (to a park, zoo, ball game, swimming pool, hiking, visit to historic site, etc.).


  • Make sure everyone keeps their front porch lights (and even back porch lights) on every night.


  • Publicize your neighborhood events, goals and petitions; announce to the world that your neighborhood is on the upward climb toward being a much better place to live because people care and are working together.


  • Meet with other adjoining neighborhoods about mutual problems; there is strength in numbers and more can get a job done.


  • Develop and maintain a rapport with the police who work in your area from patrolmen to higher ranks. You will get their individual attention to problems much better that way. Back to top

For more information, contact the Office of 
State Senator Vincent J. Fumo

1208 Tasker Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 468-3866
2637 East Clearfield Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 423-7670
Senate Box 203001
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3001
(717) 787-5661


Copyright 1996 by State Senator Vincent J. Fumo. Copyright is not claimed as to part of the original work prepared by an employee of the Senate of Pennsylvania, or Commonwealth governmental officer or employee as part of that person's official duties. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be copied, downloaded, stored, disseminated, transferred, or used, in any forms or by an means, except with State Senator Vincent J. Fumo's prior written permission.


Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo