Neighborhood Watch is a proven deterrent to burglaries


Have residential burglaries been on the rise in Summerlin, justifying the jitters some residents are suffering? Indeed they have.

But is it an epidemic, as some might suggest? Not in neighborhoods where there are efforts by residents to watch out for one another by keeping a close eye on who’s coming and going.

And is there anything we can do to help catch the crooks and prevent these crimes, especially in those areas where residents are not involved in organized neighborhood awareness? Absolutely!

“Household property crimes (another term for burglaries), which should not be confused with robberies, are a consistent problem in the northwest,” said Kathy Perkins, crime prevention specialist at the Northwest Area Command of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, 9850 W. Cheyenne Ave.

She said a prime reason for burglaries in Summerlin is due to the area’s predominantly residential makeup, and the Northwest Command is responsible for covering a sizable segment of the Summerlin area.

“... Gated communities, non-gated, guard-gated –– crime happens in all neighborhoods,” Perkins commented. “But property crimes can be reduced when residents take part in increased awareness and prevention practices.”

She emphasized the need for residential neighborhoods to form watch programs as a means of deterring crooks.

“These are proven programs,” Perkins said, noting that the numbers of burglaries have been reduced substantially in neighborhoods where watch programs exist.

Police data show that the overwhelming percentage of burglaries are committed during the daytime, generally when the victims are not at home.

According to statistics provided by Las Vegas police, burglaries have been on the rise in Summerlin during the past year. An area of the Northwest Command that generally encompasses Summerlin West and Summerlin North showed 83 residential burglaries between the start of 2012 and April 15 of last year.

The number of residential burglaries rose to 100 for the same area and time frame this year, reflecting an increase of 20.48 percent. Vehicular break-ins during the same period and in the same sectors of Summerlin were down by 8.4 percent, from 65 to 60.

The percentage of residential break-ins was higher in Sun City Summerlin during the same time frame, where burglaries increased from 34 to 47, a rise of 38.23 percent. But auto break-ins dropped from 21 to 19, a reduction of 10.5 percent.

“We keep making significant arrests, and in no way should these crimes be viewed as out of control,” Perkins said, adding that police presence and surveillance have been beefed up throughout the Northwest Command’s coverage area.

“There have been more burglaries than normal in Sun City,” she said, “but their security patrol, their governing board and Metro are working hard to control the problem.”

Patty Rosia, the new executive director of Sun City Summerlin, affirmed increased efforts to deter burglaries during a recent meeting of the Sun City Residents’ Forum. She also alluded to an increase in the number of Neighborhood Watch programs in the community.

One of the most effective means of avoiding burglaries is the creation of watch programs, Perkins said.

“We have more Neighborhood Watches in effect than at any time. And yes, they do work,” she emphasized.

She pointed to a substantial increase in the number of Neighborhood Watch programs throughout the Northwest Command.

“We now have 636 Neighborhood Watch block captains in the northwest,” Perkins said. “A block captain is responsible for a watch group of anywhere from 10 to 30 homes.”

While break-ins have increased, largely in areas where there are no Neighborhood Watches, Perkins said there has also been a rise in arrests of burglars who viewed Summerlin as a soft touch.

She noted that her office tracks each burglary.

“One of the things we have learned is that residential property crimes are higher in areas without Neighborhood Watch programs,” she said.

As an aside, Perkins said residents often confuse burglaries with robberies.

“Let’s distinguish the difference between the two,” she said. “A robbery involves physical contact. It is more intrusive. A burglar wants to take stuff out of your house and leave without any physical contact.”

Any group of residents interested in forming a Neighborhood Watch program, with input from Las Vegas police, should call Perkins at 702-828-4305.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, “All For Nothing,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.