Residents of Warrens Park South in St. Michael were provided with an array of safety and security tips by police last weekend at a pre-launch meeting of their neighbourhood watch.
Led by Crime Prevention Officer Station Sergeant Stephen Griffith, the police team told residents that a key component of an effective watch was “peeping”. He told the more than two dozen residents to “learn to peep” and “peep often” so they would never miss anything happening in their community.
He explained that being aware meant being always observant, using their cellular phones and cameras to take photos of suspicious persons exhibiting strange behaviour and informing the police on every occasion — all ingredients to keeping crime in the community at a minimum, and assisting the police in apprehending the perpetrators when something illegal does occur.
He also warned them against “discrimination”, noting that because a person was wearing “collar and tie” did not mean he would not steal.
“We have had people with all kinds of breaking tools in a briefcase,” he said, while adding that “the man with dreadlocks” who they fear “may be the most honest person you meet”.
Griffith explained to his audience that there were a number of practices that Barbadian households engaged in that contributed to unsafe residences. Tall guard walls, vegetation fences that provide hiding places for criminals, trees that provide access to upstairs windows that are left open, ladders and other tools left exposed all facilitate criminals, he said.
The veteran policeman also suggested that householders utilise plants such as bougainvillea along walls and fences, install “white” lights around their homes that allow them to properly identify intruders, and to ensure that windows and doors are properly closed and locked when they leave home.
“You would be surprised how many people get up in the morning and open every window because they want fresh air, then rush off to work without securing them,” Griffith said.
He pointed out too that a number of homes had been entered because in their morning rush, householders left the keys in the lock, adding: “I also advise people not to go to sleep and leave all their keys in one place close to the door, because a thief will either fish them out, or if he gets in he will not just have access to all you have worked hard for in the house, but you also are saying to him ‘Take my vehicle to move de stuff’.”
In an interactive address, Griffth said: “We don’t want the neighbour to know our business so we go away for vacation for four weeks and say nothing. We don’t even stop the newspaper from coming, so a thief passes and see five papers and knows no one has been home for five days so he breaks in.”
Gfiffith, to loud laughter, told his audience, which included Parliamentary representative Ronald Toppin, of a householder who left home and placed a note on the door for a friend saying what time he would be back. A thief, he added, saw the note, broke into the house, packed up what he wanted, cooked and ate a meal of pelau, then took a nap — all before the resident returned.
“Don’t laugh,” he said. “That took place right here in Barbados.”
The neighbourhood watch, which is being led by Ronnie Roberts as the interim president, is expected to be launched “in a few weeks”. Also on the committee are Ken Gebgart, vice president and Cary Evelyn as secretary. (RRM)