Neighbourhoods and community safety
Building strong neighbourhood connections helps create safe and caring communities; reducing criminal offending, building community resilience and strengthening networks that we need in times of emergency or hardship. Having a strong support network when a Civil Defence emergency happens is crucial. People need to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days so knowing your neighbour is important so you can support one another until help is available.
Neighbourhood Support groups
Hastings District Council encourages residents to join a Neighbourhood Support group or help to start one in their street. Neighbours who know each other through support groups are vital to neighbourhood safety. They can do things like spot suspicious behaviour and report it to police, or make themselves available when people are away to turn lights on or close curtains so that it looks like someone is home.
As Neighbourhood Support NZ says: ‘There’s strength in numbers’. A Neighbourhood Support group brings local people together to share information, ideas and connectedness. Together, you can assist one another to:
- Solve local problems
- Reduce crime
- Minimise anti-social behaviour
- Support victims of crime
- Learn to prepare and cope with civil defence emergencies
- Engage police, other emergency services or support agencies
- Liaise and co-operate with other like-minded community groups
Neighbourhood Support Groups don’t need to meet very often nor have people living ‘in one another’s pockets’. Small groups connect by ‘email tree’, gathering for a face-to-face catch-ups less often.
Neighbourhood safety tips
Always report a burglary to police. Police are available 24 hours a day by phoning 111 in an emergency. Tell the operator what service you want - Police, Ambulance or Fire Services. Try to stay calm when making the call, and do not hang up.
Give your name, address and phone number to the operator and try to answer questions slowly and clearly. Emergency calls are free from all phones, including pay-phones and cell phones.
Putting the would-be thief off
Improving security in and around your home could prevent a would-be thief from entering your home. It could slow the thief down and create problems with noise - either way, it is always good to be prepared in case of a would-be thief.
- Fit locks on your windows and lock them when you go out
- Glass can be removed from louvre windows so make sure you glue panes in with epoxy resin
- Lock your doors and close windows when going out - even if you are going out for only a minute
- Lock your doors at night when you are home
- Install deadlocks on exterior doors and internal garage doors
- Fit bolts on ranch sliders and French doors
- Do not hide your spare key under the mat or in pot plants outside the door
- Lock your garage with a good quality padlock
- Do not put your name on your letterbox - it can allow people to find your phone number and subsequently determine if and when you are home.
- Fit security lights that illuminate doors and secluded areas
- Do not leave tools and ladders outside
- Fit a door viewer so you can see who is at the door; ask callers to identify themselves before you open the door
- Consider installing alarms
- Do not leave bikes, lawn mowers etc. in open carports
Mark your valuables
Experienced thieves will sometimes only take cash, which cannot be identified, but your home contains all sorts of high value and portable items which can easily be sold.
Mark items such as televisions, cameras, videos, DVD players, computers and stereos with indelible markers, etching or engravings. You can use your driver's licence number which will help Police (but nobody else) identify the property's rightful owner if it is stolen.
Anyone is able to record serial numbers and other unique identifying details of their valuable goods in an electronic database. For more information and to register your goods visit snap.org.nz
It is also a good idea to take photos or video of other valuable items such as paintings, jewellery, silver and antiques. Store the pictures or video somewhere safe, ideally not in your house, so they can be used for insurance purposes in the event of a fire.
Alarms can be a good idea for your home. They won't stop a burglar from getting into your home, but alarms definitely limit the time they will spend inside your home. You still need to make your home secure with good quality and strong locks, doors, windows and lighting.
When considering installing an alarm, seek professional advice and discuss your requirements with at least two or three firms. Ask friends or colleagues to recommend a reliable company. When a security person arrives to inspect your home in order to advise you on what is appropriate for your home, ask to see their current Security Guard Licence.
If your alarm is not professionally monitored, arrange for your neighbours to investigate if they hear it. Provide them with the code to turn it off if need be.
Going on holiday
With co-operation from your neighbours, you can minimise the likelihood of someone breaking into your home. The main thing is to avoid tell-tale signs of your absence. Give your neighbours your holiday dates and ask them to close and open curtains and collect the mail.
Things to remember when you are going on holiday and leaving your home unoccupied:
- Cancel your newspaper and have your mail held (or get your neighbour to collect it)
- Turn down your telephone ring so thieves don't know it's unanswered; do not leave a message on your answering machine to say that you are away
- Have an inside light connected to a timer that turns on at night
- If you are going to be away for some time, arrange for someone to mow your lawn
If you do return home to find you have been burgled, contact the Police straight away. Do not touch anything as you may accidentally destroy evidence.
For more information on Neighbourhood Support Groups, contact Council's Social Development Coordinator.
Neighbourhood News, a newsletter updating Hastings’ Neighbourhood Support coordinators and street champions, is published regularly. You can sign up here [link: https://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/our-council/news/e-newsletters/neighbourhood-support/] to have it emailed to you.
You can read previous newsletters using the Other publications tab in the 'related pages' section at the bottom of this page.