Goal: To decrease property crimes and increase neighborhood safety.
The total number of property crimes (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, arson) committed between 2008 and 2011.
Why This Indicator is Important
According to the Gallup Well-being Survey, neighborhood safety is crucial to improving well-being in a community. Safety is of concern and economic distress has a direct link to property crimes. Concurrently, property values are directly impacted by the levels of property crime rates.
How Are We Doing?
Saginaw County has experienced a 6% decrease in property crimes since 2008. Property crimes increased nationally, in Michigan, and Saginaw County between 2000 and 2007, while they have decreased since. Given the data collected, Saginaw County’s main problems remain burglary and larceny. Although, the African-American population is about 20% of the total population of Saginaw County, they make up 70% of total arrests, of which the data for period (2008-2011) show that the number of arrests for aggravated assault, burglary, and larceny are more alarming when examined by both race and gender (2008-2011).
How Can You Have An Impact?
- Work with the police or sheriff’s office. These agencies are critical to a watch group’s credibility and are the source of necessary information and training.
- Link up with your victims’ services office to get your members trained in helping victims of crime.
- Hold regular meetings to help residents get to know each other and to decide upon program strategies and activities.
- Consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizens’ association, community development office, tenants’ association, or housing authority. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure you can use.
- Canvass door-to-door to recruit members.
- Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers,” looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities in the neighborhood.
- Translate crime and drug prevention materials into Spanish or other languages needed by non-English speakers in your community. If necessary, have a translator at meetings.
- Sponsor a crime and drug prevention fair at a church hall, temple, shopping mall, or community center.
- Gather the facts about crime in your neighborhood. Check police reports, conduct victimization surveys, and learn residents’ perceptions about crimes. Often, residents’ opinions are not supported by facts, and accurate information can reduce the fear of crime.
- Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.
- Work with small businesses to repair rundown storefronts, clean up littered streets, and create jobs for young people.
- Start a block parent program to help children cope with emergencies while walking to and from school or playing in the area.
- Emphasize that watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.