Make a difference

Karen Kerchhoff, spokesperson, Simon’s Town Community Police Forum

Behind the seemingly quiet facade of our Deep South Valley and surrounds in houses dotted far and wide there are those who aren’t preparing to settle in front of the telly, nor for a good eight hours sleep.

These people, from all walks of life, young and old are collecting their neighbourhood watch kits and are hitting the streets in vehicles and on foot to be a first line of defence in an eyes and ears capacity against crime.

Day and night, these volunteers, with the back-up of various camera systems, communication links to security providers and law enforcement departments, keep a vigilant eye on suspicious activities, vehicles, fires, missing persons and the occasional hunt for the lost dog.

Within their capacity to do good, they’ve even changed tyres, given lifts and popped in to reassure the elderly neighbour down the street. Now I know your next thought is going to be: “I haven’t the time, fitness level, or desire to be out there let someone else do the job who enjoys that sort of thing.”

Let me tell you, you are missing out. While some of us are not patrollers there are many ways to be part of the neighbourhood watch, to be connected to your streets and to make a difference and be a vital cog in combating crime in your area. Some of the behind the scenes activities include watching and checking cameras, keeping an eye out at local school functions, admin, being a safe house, monitoring the various social media groups, right down to just being eyes from your window or recharging torch batteries. Some areas have a dedicated neighbourhood watch emergency phone number with the cellphone being rotated among members who are willing to carry it for the day to answer and record calls.

Maybe your next question is: “Well I can’t afford to be doing patrols, petrol is expensive.”

In most areas there is a special confidential fund that is set aside for this situation.

Our area is well known for its empty holiday homes and I would like to suggest that the absent owners might like to make a donation to either their local watch or community police forum (CPF) knowing that while you are away there are people in close proximity keeping an eagle eye out.

While SAPS and the various security providers do their utmost to protect us, it is more than likely an observant neighbour who reports suspicious activities at your empty house before they have even got to your front door or back window.

Apart from the above methods of helping, there is always the much needed and appreciated monetary donations, be it small or large that can assist with replenishments of communal items such as decals, torches, vests, radios and such and or the items themselves.

The body that oversees the neighbourhood watches is the CPF. They liaise and work closely with all the departments ranging from disaster control, SAPS, law enforcement, park rangers, the municipality and the businesses in the area to name a few.

The CPF is also constantly busy with community projects that include trauma rooms, street dwellers and parking guard attendants and are always grateful for extra hands and talents. They also would welcome donations to carry on with the projects running presently and to implement new ones.

Some might see the neighbourhood watch as a bunch of interfering busybodies but whatever your opinion, friend or foe, there is ample data proving that where a strong neighbourhood watch exists, the amount of crime decreases drastically.

There is opportunity to do training through various government departments within the neighbourhood watch parameters.

There is really no excuse not to get involved in whatever capacity suits you, whether you can offer one hour a month or 12 hours a day, you are needed and wanted.

The saying goes “Many people make light work”, so the more people who can offer their services, the less the present group has to take up the strain.

Don’t let your special talent go to waste, get involved, make a difference, join us and get to know your neighbours, your neighbourhood and the valley surrounds.

There are neighbourhood groups in most areas in the deep south and where there aren’t why not consider starting one in your street or block. We might be divided by road and mountain, however, we have only
a few exits and entrances.

In retrospect, the criminal who opportunistically makes a trip from another area does not necessarily just target Fish Hoek or Noordhoek but can travel as far as Misty Cliffs, Ocean View, etc.

We, with your help, can track these elements and help curb potential crimes.

Contact me on 079 951 9786 so I can pass you to the correct CPF contact or watch co-ordinator.