Monday, August 18, 2008

Whistle Blowers

Regular readers know that we've been having problems with crime in our neighbourhood and that we have recently begun having meetings with our neighbours to see what we can do about it. Last week we had two meetings actually, and I am pleased to report that people are stepping up to the plate and taking initiative. One man has taken the lead, sort of a block captain I guess and there are several of us who have begun to communicate regularly. I think the most people we've had out was 25, more than I expected to be honest. It's nice to meet more of our neighbours, there are a lot of good folk around here.

One of the first things we've been talking about is lighting and illumination, there are a lot of dark areas around here at night and we are taking individual steps to brighten things up. We've also discussed just being more aware of who is in the hood and who SHOULD be in the hood. If we see a stranger, it's been suggested that simply asking them what they are doing or who they are looking for can be sufficient to get them out of our area and on to another block. If we don't feel confident approaching them but we think they are suspicious, we are to call another neighbour (phone lists are being created as I type) or call the police. Everyone is taking extra care with locks and trimming plants or trees that could provide cover for the bad guys.

The initiative that I like best is the Whistle Blowers. Those of us who have been at the meetings have all bought referee whistles and we know how to use them! If something is going down, we are to blow the whistle. If we hear a whistle, we are to come outside and start blowing our own and find out what is going on. We had a "drill" on Friday night at 6:00. Now, we knew it was coming and we went outside to see if we could hear the whistle. It was very very faint, but it was there so we started walking and blowing in the direction we heard the sound. It was a block away, not bad and about 15 of us came out. It was discussed that with the heat everyone has their air conditioners on and are at home watching TV and that it was difficult to hear, but in a real emergency, I feel confident that my closest neighbours would come running if they hear me blowing. I like the idea a lot, better than screaming "Help!" and a clear message to the crooks that we are banding together and we won't lie down and take it. Neighbours coming running blowing whistles will surely scare away the simple robbers (though if we were face to face with the mafia, they would laugh and shoot us, but that's not really the problem in this hood, at least not yet). We're going to have another simulation, this time not announcing the date and time and we shall see if we get a response.

We are officially taking part in Mexico's version of Neighbourhood Watch, a program called "Vecino Vigilante", translated "Vigilant Neighbour". We've ordered the signs that everyone will put in their windows, cost 50 pesos each. For those of you who live in Mexico, perhaps you can get your own neighbourhood on board with this and we can start to kick some criminals out of our hoods!

I'm feeling good about the unity here and feel safer for having the whistle (I know, so silly that a little piece of plastic can give me peace of mind, but it does). Now, to keep the silbato (whistle) out of Max's little hands, I don't want him to be the boy who cried wolf!


Alex said...

It is so good to see your neighbours are doing something about the whole situation instead of sitting down not doing anything. The whistle thing is an excellent idea! (it wouldn't hurt to carry your own pepper spray...)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the pepper spray ..MACE.. it is good protection. Glad to hear the neighbors are sticking together. More lights is a big plus. Times are tough and now all the MEGA people are jobless. More stealing. Continue to be careful.
KW from Michigan

Laura said...

This is great!
Nice to see the neighbors pulling together like that.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see u are all working together to make ur neighbourhood safe. There is always strength in groups. Keep up the good work and stay safe my friend :)

Scott Bulger Photography said...

This is the way it should be done. Well done Kelley. Stay safe.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing."

Edmund Burke

Anonymous said...

That's great that everyone has joined forces in your area. I think it's a sign of things to come. I live in Mazatlan, on the other coast, where petty thefts are on the rise. I think this is a good idea for all neighborhoods. Alot of our problems are happening when people are at work, but feeding street dogs has worked for us, touch wood.

There is one skinny little dog who acts like a soldier, patrolling back and forth in front of our house. He seems to never sleep and even though he has annoying habits picked up on the street (such as chasing cars and motorcycles and mailmen and garbagemen!) the neighbors have begun to warm up to him and have help share in supplying his food and water. He has officially joined the female canine vigilante pack we have on the block.

I love the whistle idea. Here the mailmen use whistles, and people ALWAYS listen for the whistle so they can immediately collect their the ear is already tuned for that sound. Great idea.

barry said...

Sounds super Kelly.. there is always strength in numbers.Given that perps depend on anonimity and are on the road to reverse the odds . Like you said, Lighting dark areas and removing hideing places are Job One.Linking the neighborhood as a cooperative collection of Eyes is Job Two. I dont know exactly how things work there, but Job Three is involve the Local Police. Ask the Local policemen to critic what you have done( they know the MO's used) and with perhaps 2-3 members of your Watch accompany them as they inspect the outside properties and meet the homeowners . I see many benefits to this,1. you are Telling them they are professionals and value their opinion. 2. You get to know the Police who patrols your neighborhood and 3. They get to know you .. And suddenly it's not a block of houses with numbers but homes with families they now know . Perhaps concluding with small gift of Thanks for Being there. Just a thought .. Keep safe and hope the inertia persists.

Anonymous said...

Great idea Kelly! I am pleased to see that your neighbors are joining in. I don’t know most of my neighbors and probably wouldn’t be able to tell if someone was in their yard that didn’t belong unless of course they were obviously breaking in or running out of the house with stuff.
Max must learn early on that is a special silbato and only mommy and daddy can use it.

Fned said...

Wow! I'm so impressed that your neighborhood would get organized so well!! I think this is the first time I ever hear of something like this happening in Mexico!!!

Congrats girl and keep that whistle close to ya at all times!


Heather said...

i love it! so happy and proud of you all and for all of you! good point about max, i know my kids love whistles at papa's futbol games, lol!

CancunCanuck said...

Ale- I am happy about the good neighbour thing too. I am scared of mace or pepper spray, only because Max is in to EVERYTHING. My purse is his favourite destination, I just know that having something like that around is asking for trouble.

KW- As I said to Ale, the mace or pepper spray just scares me with Max around. More lights is a key element, lots of hidey places around. We've just started low season here, so there will be a lot of people without work or without as much work as they need, so you just know that crime is going to go up again. BTW, Mega has promised that none of the employees will lose their jobs, they have been transferred to other stores throughout Cancun.

Laura- It is nice, isn't it? Not what I expected to happen down here, it's a pleasant surprise.

Lana- Strength in numbers for sure! We shall stay vigilant and stay as safe as we can be! (Hope all is well for you, have you started your Tulum blog yet? Hint hint)

Scott- Great quote, thanks! I have to give credit to the block captain and others who are involved, I am just going where they say to go and doing what I can for our own property and safety, while of course watching out for our closest neighbours.

Canexicana- Dogs are good, but you can become complacent about the barking. We are surrounded by dogs (not street dogs, doggies with homes all around us), and we know their barks. I am more alert about them now, but for a while we were ignoring them. None of the dogs are guard dogs per se, but they do go crazy if someone is around who shouldn't be. Of course, we've got a dog in our yard (our Lola) and apparently she is useless (LOL), someone got in the yard and cut the screens on our neighbour's windows (their windows are in our yard if that makes any sense) and Lola didn't do anything! Probably gave the guy a good licking. Stay safe in beautiful Mazatlan!

Barry- I think we are doing all the right things, hopefully we can at least curb the amount of crime and vandalism. I've been reading about Neighbourhood Watch/Vecino Vigilante and we are definitely on the right track. The block captain has been speaking to the police I believe, but really really, with so much stuff going on here that is worse than theft, I just don't know how much they will be able to participate. Not a bad idea though, and of course the cops down here love "presents", wink wink.

Jackie- Now that we are all aware, I think we are paying closer attention to who is who and who's stuff is who's. We even discussed movers, asking for identification of any moving company if we can't find the owners to verify that they are indeed moving. These guys can be brazen, pulling up with a truck and doing their thing, it's good that we are now aware and on top of things! And yes, Max knows it's special, just makes him want it even more, LOL!

Fned- I didn't know that Vecino Vigilantes existed, que bueno Mexico! I'm actually finding a few websites in Mexico dedicated to fighting "inseguridad" and encouraging communities to unite. It's a forward step for sure!

Heather- Thanks Mami! Yep, Max wants that whistle, kids LOVE'EM! :)

Nancy said...

A block watch program is being started here in Centro in Mazatlan. There hasn't even been a meeting yet but when there is I will suggest the whistle idea.

Congrats on such a successful turnout and I am sure it will be a real deterrent to criminals.

You'll keep us posted on how it goes, I hope.

Mamacita Chilena said...

what a fabulous idea. I wish my neighborhood was small enough here in Santiago to do something similar.

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