What would you do if you saw someone involved in a questionable activity in your apartment community? We all know the importance of being aware and vigilant about safety in and around our apartments. So, when we witness or suspect something out of the ordinary going on, we want to determine the right course of action to take to address the situation quickly. Read our suggestions on the best approaches to reporting suspicious activities in your neighborhood.
Forming a stronger community - Neighbors and friends should play a strong role in establishing a network of awareness and action in your apartment community. Consider starting or getting involved in a neighborhood watch program in your apartment community. These are formal programs in which citizens meet regularly to establish and discuss neighborhood safety. Get together with your neighbors to form a community of observers (not snoopers!) who stay in contact with each other about what is going on in the apartment community. By setting up regular meetings to learn and discuss awareness techniques, you prioritize safety in your community. You might even invite local law enforcement to give a public safety workshop to your neighborhood watch group.
Paying attention to your environment - Of course, you also want to take basic precautions to protect your own apartment. Make sure you get to know both your neighborhood and your neighbors. In apartment communities, typically, the sheer number of residents makes it difficult or impossible to know everyone. In addition to the friends and neighbors you make, there are bound to be some strangers to you, as well. As you observe people, how do you tell the difference between people going about their business and someone involved in a potentially harmful or illegal situation? If you see strange behavior or hear unusual noises — strange or unusual enough that you feel concern — then, for your own peace of mind, some action may be necessary. You want to gauge the extent of that action on the amount of concern you feel and the evidence that you have observed. You might find it prudent to discuss activities you witness or suspect with your network of apartment community friends and neighbors. They may (or may not) have witnessed similar events and perhaps have come to similar conclusions. Collaboration could add to the evidence you will present to whatever authority you decide to contact to formally deal with the situation.
Here are some situations that present definite red flags:
•Strangers looking into apartment windows or parked cars
•Vehicles moving slowly through the neighborhood without lights
•Seeing someone being forced into a vehicle against their will
•Strangers sitting in cars or going out of their way to talk to children
•Unusual noises, including violent arguing
Taking the next step - How should you move forward, when the time comes that you feel you must alert authorities to a situation? Most communities have a 911 system you can use to get in touch with police or security agencies. You might know to contact a certain agency that handles particular concerns. If you have evidence that a child might be in danger, you would contact your community’s child services division, for instance. You want to be able to report details. Facts, in addition to your hunches, are very important to help authorities prioritize your concerns. Be sure to take note of descriptive details about suspicious individuals, the license plate numbers of any cars involved, and what you actually observed as you report to police or other official agencies.