Sunday Territorian 25 Jan 2015
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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SUNDAY JANUARY 25 2015 LIFESTYLE 19 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA Coconut Groves Rita Mougros has just joined the Neighbourhood Watch program and will be keeping an eye out for suspicious types Pictures: IVAN RACHMAN Keeping an eagle eye out for crime BREAK-INS, assaults, robberies crime in Darwin and Palmerston has been widely publicised and the community has been calling for more to be done. But its members of the community who can make the biggest difference. Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) enables the eyes and ears of the community to learn the skills to identify suspicious behaviour and know what to do about it. Police Senior Constable Tracey-Dale Middleton is the NHW Northern Territory support and liaison officer and says many people seem unaware of the extensive and free services and information provided by the not-for-profit organisation. Neighbourhood watching is a program that provides the community with a tool to tighten up their own security, she says. Police cant be everywhere but they need to know whats going on, too. Youre the ones that live there and know whats suspicious. The Neighbourhood Watch website has information on how to identify and what to do if you see something suspicious and the appropriate people to contact. Sen-Constable Middleton has organised workshops for community members to attend with guest speakers from in the security field. We want to raise awareness of what may be suspicious, who and how to respond to it, and what to expect if you call police, SenConstable Middleton says. A lot of people just assume enough other people may have already reported something, but six people might call in but its that seventh person that might have a little bit more information. Sen-Constable Middleton says it is important for the community to be vigilant of their own safety and not get complacent. The onus is back on people living in the community to take responsibility of their own safety, she says. The number one thing people can do is mark their property so if it does get stolen then we can return it. People are always saying well Ive never had to do this or that before. People have to get out of that mindset and start rethinking their security to minimise the opportunity to become a victim. Sen-Constable Middleton is by no means blaming the community, but says most thieves are opportunists so the moment someone lets down their guard they can be targeted. One of the services Neighbourhood Watch aim to teach their volunteers is how to conduct safety audits on the houses in their neighbourhoods. We want to teach volunteers to go in pairs and go through houses to see how they can improve security trim bushes, improve lighting, things like that, Sen-Constable Middleton says. Becoming a NHW member is relatively easy and puts you in a network of like-minded people. Volunteer numbers went from over 13,000 to zero in the NT after eligibility changes in 2010 and Sen-Constable Middleton has slowly been building numbers back up, and they are now at about 450. The process is fairly simple. Members need an Ochre Card, which needs to be renewed every two years, and undergo a criminal history check. Many people are probably already doing what NHW volunteers do, like Rita Mougros was when she signed up as a Safety House volunteer. Safety House members are people in the community who are available to provide assistance to children travelling to and from school, and are required to be home between 7am to 8.30am and 2.30pm to 4pm most weekdays The Coconut Grove resident and mother-of-four joined after seeing a stand at the local shopping centre. I didnt know anything about Neighbourhood Watch. I went shopping and they had a dispatch, she says. Mougros realised this was an organisation of like-minded people, and signed for the Safety House program, which automatically signed members as part of NHW. I think (Neighbourhood Watch) is the backbone of the community because youre at home seeing stuff the police cant see, Mougros says. If you havent got safety youve got crime. From a young age Ive always been protective of my area. Im a mother of four and I know what its like when kids arent safe. You watch out for other children. You have to be a mother for everybody. I dont bother (my neighbours) lives but if they need something I help. Its just using your brain and a lot of common sense. At Work and at Home Secure your house, even when you are home Install external sensor-activated lighting Ensure there is adequate lighting at the main entry/exit Leave lights, a radio or your television on whenever you go out Fit security screens, window locks and solid core doors and consider fitting a security alarm Dont leave your valuables in plain sight Never hide your spare house keys outside Keep shrubbery well trimmed, beware of hiding places in gardens Out and About Whenever possible dont walk alone Going somewhere unfamiliar let someone know your proposed route Travel on busy roads where possible Carry your bag close to you, preferably away from approaching road and pedestrian traffic Look and listen while walking, jogging or cycling wear only one earpiece so that you are aware of your surroundings Consider carrying a torch or personal alarm and have it ready for use Lock your car and dont leave valuables in it Avoid any temptation Park in well-lit busy areas and check inside your car before entering it Going on Holiday what do you do? Never advertise your absence on your answering machine or with notes on the front door Get to know your neighbours, especially those around you Complete an Absentee Owner Advice form and drop it in to your nearest police station BE SMART AND SAFE NT Police out and about on patrol at Woolworths in Darwins CBD Picture: IVAN RACHMAN Rita Mougros (right) keeps an eye out with Neighbourhood Watch liaison officer Senior Constable Tracy-Dale Middleton As hoodlums and thieves run riot on our city streets, Neighbourhood Watch is making a big comeback By TAMARA HOWIE
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