Neighborhood Watch Information


Columbia crime reports are now posted week days on the RaidsOnLine website by CPD:

Enter your street address and city in ‘location’ window – click on ‘Go to Address’  There are options for amount of detail you view: Calendar period; Crime Types; Zoom ‘in or out’, etc. Click on “Sign up for Crime Alerts” to receive them directly from RaidsOnLine.


This is a 37 page manual that Columbia Neighborhood Watch uses as a reference guide.




 1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.  

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.  

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.  

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it. 

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.  

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.  

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.  

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.  

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. Don't take me up on it.)  

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.  

11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.  

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.  

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.  



1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.  

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.  

3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.  

4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?  

5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.  

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.  

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.  

8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.  

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina , Oregon , California , and Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book "Burglars on the Job."  




How Columbia Neighborhood Watch Blocks are organized:


CNW is organized by 'basic' block units of homes who watch out for each other, and, because they are aware of their neighbor's comings and goings, which cars and people belong, etc., can quickly spot unusual or suspicious behavior.  In the past 15 to 20 houses was the recommended maximum size for a block unit, but blocks in the 25 to 35 house range can work, although at this size folks are starting to trade off everyone knowing everyone else's living patterns and vehicles for connectedness over a larger area and convenience of administration.  Blocks longer than about 20 houses usually share a common feature:  a long street with no cross streets, other than small connected courts.  "Suspicious activity" in vehicular or pedestrian form will generally be seen by many of the houses in such a block, and should be of immediate observational interest to those members of the block.

Getting started to organize your neighbors on the block requires at least one person on each block willing to knock on some of doors and say something like:

"Hi, I'm your neighbor___, I live at ___.   We're trying to organize a Neighborhood Watch group on our block -- is that something you would like to participate in?  What I'm doing today is asking each of us to share our contact information with each other -- if you would share an email address it would make it much easier, as I will be able to simply email our contact info around, and keep the group informed about how we're doing on getting a training organized".  Before you start going door to door, let CNW know what you are doing and we will Email you an Excel doc spreadsheet where all you have to do is fill in the blanks.

If one of your neighbors doesn't have computer skills, you can type or write down your neighbors contact information.  You will need to make a copy for every neighbor on the list.  Since we don't leave things in mailboxes (illegal) or leave papers in doors (makes homes look unoccupied) we suggest you either mail or hand deliver the copy to your neighbor.  However you do it, sharing your contact information amoung yourselves is the most important step in setting up your Neighborhood Watch block.

Once the "block training" has taken place, there are certain "levels of participation" that determine the official status of recognition for that block.  Based on national standards, CNW will recognize a Block, and a person(s) as Block Captain, when they submit a roster to CNW showing the % trained on their block.  If the % of the occupied houses to have at least one occupant attend the training reaches 25%, we designate the block as 'recognized' as a "block in progress" working towards the 50% national standard.  With susequent trainings, once the 50% is achieved, the block becomes fully certified.  CNW, after reviewing this information, installs a “free” neighborhood watch sign (paid for by CNW) on City of Columbia property, with the option that the block can purchase another sign through CNW (CNW installs this sign as well, typically at the other end of the street).






If you live in a small neighborhood you don’t need a Neighborhood Coordinator; but if you do need one, the CNW board will assist whoever volunteers as much as possible, to achieve the goal of organizing Neighborhood Watch in your area as quickly as possible.