OH, WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?
By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers
THIS IS PART 2 OF GETTING READY TO TRAVEL
All I said to my neighbors across the road from our cabin was, “We’re going to be on the road for almost a year. I’d like to start a Neighborhood Watch for our street.”
It made sense, of course. We’re in a rural setting where sheriff’s office is stretched very thin and as far as I know, there are no home security companies that do an adequate job. So neighbor-watching-neighbor seemed like the answer.
The couple across the street thought it was a good idea … the husband then proceeded to fall off a ladder and has been staying closer to the physical therapy clinic 40 miles away.
But no big deal, right? Get a few folks together, and let’s get it established. The message that a Neighborhood Watch was starting up spread like a lightening bolt up and down the street and across the town. While I was envisioning about 10 homes, we now have 92 residences qualified in the group area, with about 45 signed up so far. That’s not bad considering that 75 percent are weekenders or who visit their cabins only once or twice a year. It will grow.
It’s taken much more of my time than I had ever imagined, but here’s the good news. Monique and I are leaving in a little over a month, so by then I’m confident I’ll find qualified hands in which to drop off my notebook. I have already enlisted the help of a money-handler and a lady to make phone calls to those without email when necessary.
RVers AND NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
Are you in a Neighborhood Watch area? While my long-time impression that it was mostly for show and didn’t seem to have “any teeth” be effective, I have changed my mind. All we ask the neighbors to do is to be suspicious, alert, nosy and pro-active. If anyone sees, let’s say, a black pickup truck backed up to a residence while the owner is away, he or she is asked to get all the information possible without confronting the suspicious people. Then, using the list of phones numbers we have compiled and distributed, call the owner to see if there could be a problem. If there is a reason to be concerned or if your travels have you in a no-cell-phone area, the next step is for the neighbor to call (in our case) the sheriff’s office or police department and report, saying, “I saw … “ and tell them what’s happening.
In an emergency, especially a crime against person, that’s when to call 9-1-1. We ask our members to enter the non-emergency reporting number in their cell phones and keep it by their landline.
That’s what it’s all about.
But there’s been a secondary, unexpected benefit. Monique and I are new here and may already know as many people as the long-timers. “I’ve lived here 13 years and never knew another soul on the street before today!” We’ve heard that over and over from neighbors.
And by the way, while my original idea was for 10 or so neighbors, the tsunami rolled down and up the street in veritable hours. A day later, residents on three somewhat isolated side streets asked to be included and were accepted. Then locals along highly used intersecting “Hill Street” (a fictitious name) asked to join and were turned down because they have a different traffic flow. Then an ex-police officer a half-mile from our road asked to join – again, it doesn’t work that way, and he was politely asked to form a group on his street.
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH FOR RVers
It makes sense for your property deserted while you’re living in your residence-on-wheels, even with other forms of security (as we will have). You get to know neighbors, gaining a personal relationship with them since you’re looking out for each other’s home when you’re gone or he is.
The cost for our group has been buying metal street signs online – I asked for a $15-$20 donation from neighbors – and getting a county/municipal permit to attach them to street-sign poles. With our donations far exceeding expected financial needs, I’m ordering plastic yard signs for contributing residents to put up as they see fit – on a stick, a fence, a tree, etc.
I’d like to add a comment I made at our most recent get-together. I had invited to our meeting a neighbor who backs up to us on “Hill Street” and got his blood pressure up when I told the group, “With these signs in our yards, all the burglars will probably go over to Hill Street.” He spent the next day rounding up his neighbors to get their watch group started.
In Part 3, I’ll post what I’ll call the Repairs-Maintenance-Improvements process we’re going through in preparation for our months on the road, both in the RV and the cabin we will use as our base.
As always, I hope you’ll make any suggestions in the comments section related to today’s topic, Neighborhood Watch.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved [Faces are blurred on purpose]