Woman makes northwest neighborhood crime watch a group effort.

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email

Jennifer Tendell bought a home on South Bend's northwest side about two years ago.

And that first year was a real shocker.

"I wasn't here too long before I was broken into," she says. "My garage was. And then a few months later, my garage again. And then within in the year, my house was broken into."

After three break-ins in one year, many might pack up and move. But Tendell did the opposite.

She covered the windows in her garage, and installed a security system. She even had the police visit and give her tips on ways to protect her home. But the real change happened not inside her home, but outside.

"I was already going to the monthly police meetings where they give updates on crime, but I started going door to door trying to let people know that I was here and that I was willing to disseminate information and to give them information about what was happening in our community."

Tendell has since become a neighborhood watch captain, and has managed to recruit a few of her neighbors to join her.

While she's still hoping to get more people involved, Tendell says it's made a difference.

"So far, we haven't had any other issues in the neighborhood," she says. "I can only speak for our little block, you know I'm trying to change the world one little block at a time, but things have been pretty good here. There's a few different neighbors who are pretty good about watching out. We let each other know if someone's on vacation and checking on each other's homes and we're very conscientious about calling the police when there's someone in the neighborhood that's unfamiliar to all of us."

Sometimes, Tendell's tactics may seem a bit bold. She's been known to take pictures of the license plates of unfamiliar cars. On another occasion, she called the police on a person that she suspected was casing the neighborhood. But she says it's all for the better, and she's happy to know that her own neighbors are returning the favor. They once called the police on a man who was standing in her own yard smoking a cigarette.

It was her own brother, visiting from Chicago.

It's a small price to pay, Tendell says, considering that neither she - nor her neighbors - have had any crime problems since.

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