TIERRA VERDE – After a recent rash of car break-ins in the area, the Tierra Verde Community Association invited a deputy from the sheriff’s office to give a presentation on starting a neighborhood watch program at the association’s June 6 meeting.
Pinellas County Deputy Sean O’Brien was armed with a variety of crime prevention and safety-related brochures that he made available to the residents at the meeting.
O’Brien demonstrated the “Lock it up” brochure in particular. Deputies sometimes patrol target neighborhoods, check cars for unlocked doors, and when they find an unlocked door, they place the “lock it up” brochure in the car and lock the door as a warning to the car’s owner.
According to O’Brien, checking car doors to see if they are unlocked is exactly what the criminals do. Typically, a car full of thieves will arrive in a neighborhood, disperse, and then check for unlocked vehicles to loot or steal. Unfortunately, some people leave valuables, electronics, and even guns in plain sight in the car, which is another enticement for the criminals to smash and grab.
Years ago, Tierra Verde had a Neighborhood Watch program that disbanded, but it may be reactivated if enough residents are willing to participate. O’Brien explained that to start a neighborhood watch, a resident needs to volunteer to serve as the chairperson to act as liaison between the neighborhood watch volunteers and the deputy, to recruit neighbors to volunteer as part of the watch, and to send out emails to alert the volunteers of notices, including upcoming meetings. A co-chair is also needed to ensure backup leadership coverage in the event of the chairperson’s absence.
The deputy further stated that neighbors should “be vigilant and call law enforcement” whenever they see something suspicious.
“When you see (unfamiliar) people just sitting in their cars, call it in because they may be casing your place,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien told TVCA residents in attendance that Pinellas County will only put out Neighborhood Watch signs in neighborhoods with active neighborhood watch programs. The county checks with the neighborhood watch deputy assigned to a specific area to ensure that the neighborhood watch is active, in contact with the deputy, and having meetings.
Additionally, the deputy made some suggestions for crime prevention. Boats should be secured and/or locked just like a residence/car. For residents who want to install video cameras, placement of the cameras should allow for coverage of driveways, exits, and entrances. Motion lights and alarm system signs are also deterrents to crime.
In order to keep abreast of crime in one’s neighborhood, O’Brien recommended googling “Crime Viewer.” When someone enters his/her home address, the program “brings up a red circle around (the) house,” indicating crime in that area with icons to click on for specifics, said O’Brien.
“You (residents) are the eyes and ears of your neighborhood,” said O’Brien.
Randall Ierna, an Entrada director, was nominated for the TVCA position of treasurer by the association’s president, Jerry Frulio. Ierna was elected unanimously by the board of directors.
According to Dick Barcia who heads the election committee, submissions for the position of Sands Point director closed on June 16. The board of directors will review the applicants and vote for a candidate to assume that position at next month’s meeting.