We all want to make our neighbourhood safer. In fact, there is probably nothing more important to most South Africans, black and white. In our neighbourhood we feel pretty safe. Let me tell you why and how we got there.

Co-operation builds a safer neighbourhood

We made our neighbourhood safer through cooperation. As is so often the case, it all started with one person who had vision and energy. He went from door to door persuading residents that we could make our neighbourhood safer if we all contributed to the cost of employing street guards. Enough people agreed and we found a small neighbourhood watch company that agreed to take us on.
The bottom line is that we have real human beings in our streets in ‘line of sight’ and radio contact 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sort of like ‘bobby on the beat’ but better. The result: a drop in crime in our area to almost zero.

Neighbourhood street guards – amazing service

And the street guards offer amazing service. For example, if a visitor to your home leaves her car parked, unlocked, in the street, a buzz on your intercom will be followed by a polite request for your guest to come out and lock her car!
We pay a few hundreds Rands a month for the privilege of safety and protection. What a bargain! Safer for our children, safer for our spouses, safer for ourselves. I could (and did) pay about the same to a so-called security company that delivered far, far less.
There is one problem. The ‘freeloaders’! Those who benefit from the protection and safer neighbourhood but refuse to pay their share. It IS tempting to stick ‘Unprotected House’ signs on their walls. But we focus on our having a safer neighbourhood.
Many of us believe that cities should have by-laws that force the minority of non-contributors to pay their share. For example, if 66% agree, then the other 33% should be forced to contribute. But until that happens, we will put the irritation aside and focus on the MUCH safer neighbourhood we enjoy.

Last thoughts about keeping the neighbourhood safer

Aside from being safer, I have no doubt that our houses sell for more, because estate agents can rightly claim that our neighbourhood is one of the safest in the city.
If you do have an alarm system installed the most important thing you can do is to get to know the team(s) that serve your neighbourhood. All service is NOT equal. Offering the team a cup of soup on a cold night might be a good idea. You want to make sure that they are on your side and do not see you as ‘just another customer’.
A confession: I have VERY little faith in the alarm companies that are leveraging our fears, and doing very little to make our neighbourhoods safer, all the while making profits for their directors and shareholders.
My lack of faith stems from several experiences. The most important being a two year contract period during which I paid my monthly dues by stop order. It turned out that my alarm was never connected and the alarm company never noticed! Not once, in two years! Not much of a contribution to making our neighbourhood or my home a safer place!
In addition, all too often, when an alarm goes off neighbours studiously ignore the noise (actually they are more irritated than concerned by it).

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