The Internet has made it easier to keep up on crime in your neighborhood.
It doesn't matter how large or small your community is, being plugged in is more important than ever.
We've talked before about a list-serve in which residents of a certain neighborhood or subdivision sign up to get email alerts.
It allows residents to share a variety of information.
The most important information is alerts about criminal activity in your neck of the woods, either from neighborhood watch captains, or the police themselves.
One of the most extensive and successful list-serve networks is in Granger.
Just about every day, neighborhood watch captain Pete Redden can be found at his computer managing the list-serve for the Fox Chase subdivision, where critical information about possible criminal activity is disseminated to his neighbors.
Redden says, “I have well over about 150 to 200 e-mails. And then my e-mail gets attached on to other people, and it gets forwarded on and forwarded on. There's some people who don't even live in Granger anymore that want to stay on the list because they have friends and family that do, and they want to be kept apprised of what's going on.”
The network managed by Redden and other watch captains is huge, connecting some thirty neighborhoods in northeast St. Joseph County.
“Last time I was told, I think we were upward of 2,000 people on this list-serve e-mail, and they share information. It could be anywhere from ‘We have a lost Dalmatian in Covington Shores.’ I use that example because it happened a couple of years ago. The same dog was found eight subdivisions over, and it was communicated through that list-serve chain.”
Lt. Regis Thimons is the county's neighborhood watch coordinator, and the information he shares with the watch captains on the list-serve is of a more serious nature.
The information goes both ways, making it even more effective.
Lt. Thimons says, “Anybody on that list can send me an e-mail and say "Hey, have you heard of any type of crime,’ maybe the construction scam, for example. And I had heard of it in Clay Township. Well, it migrated up to Harris Township. One thing led to another, and through communication with this list-serve again, we were able to track down the people who were doing the construction scam. I think it's extremely valuable because, otherwise, I wouldn't know what's going on in Harris Crossing, I wouldn't know what's going on in Covington Shores.”
Call it Granger's largest early warning system.
“It can be more valuable when you've got 2000 people being the police's eyes when we're not there. It's a great tool. I just wish we could spread it even more and we can. We just have to make people aware that they can get on it.”
And if you want to become part of the Granger list-serve, just contact Lt. Thimons. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also give him a call at 574-235-9569.
If you live elsewhere in Michiana, and you want to be on a similar type system as Granger, contact your local police department.
If there's a watch group for your neighborhood, they can steer you in the right direction.
If there isn't, they can help you start one.