GERMANTOWN HILLS — “It’s our expectations going forward that this becomes the village residents’ responsibility,” Germantown Hills village trustee Greg Falada said.
That statement kicked off the informational meeting for neighborhood watch in the Germantown Hills community March 7. About 20 people attended the event in the Germantown Hills firehouse, some from other communities, such as East Peoria and Eureka.
“I’m glad that the village is involved in this case,” Woodford County Sheriff James Pierceall said.
The event — that Falada described as a “catalyst” to getting neighborhood watch off the ground — included an informational video and PowerPoint presentation. Terry Glaub, Woodford County sheriff’s office detective, led the presentation.
“It’s worth its weight in gold for what you make it,” Glaub said of the value of a neighborhood watch organization.
The video presentation, “Joining Forces,” offered information on how to keep one’s home secure from break-ins. One tip included making sure windows remain a minimum of 3 feet away from any door knob so trespassers cannot smash a window to unlock the door. A deadbolt with a 1-inch throw is recommended to make it harder to spread the frame and door apart.
The other part of security that Glaub discussed is deterrents. He said just posting signs can scare potential criminals.
“Saying you have a security system is a deterrent,” he said. “They’re scared of you just like you would be of them.”
Glaub and Pierceall agreed that some residents don’t realize how responsible they are for keeping trespassers away. Pierceall reminded Germantown Hills residents of the break-ins that occurred throughout Woodford County in 2011 as an example.
“A majority of them were unforced,” he said.
Germantown Hills resident Kitty Cullet questioned how these burglars could pinpoint the right houses.
“How do they know the places where doors are open?” she asked.
Pierceall answered that burglars will drive through a neighborhood until they find one that is unsecured. Glaub said because of this that residents must make a point of calling people who forget to close garage doors and other such security measures.
“I’d rather have someone wake me up at two in the morning to tell me my garage door’s open, than not,” he said.
He added that residents can fall into a trap when they think they should not bother people at certain hours of the night with safety concerns. Such a decision can allow a burglar to get what he wants undeterred, according to Glaub.
“I had this lady who saw some guy come out of a white van with a flashlight into her neighbor’s backyard and she didn’t call until the next day ... almost six hours,” he said.
After Glaub and Pierceall laid out the differences between a successful and unsuccessful neighborhood watch program, some residents began to ask questions about communication between neighborhood watch members. Germantown Hills resident Michelle Largent of Whispering Oaks asked how she is supposed to get the word out in such a large subdivision.
“Do you suggest going door to door to all 150 houses?” she asked.
At the beginning of the meeting, Pierceall said communication is more efficient with modern technology.
“You get the message out quicker to more people,” he said.
Glaub suggested arranging events where subdivisions come together to get to know each other. He said too often residents don’t know the people they live near.
“Have a picnic just to get to know your neighbors,” he said.
Other residents raised concerns about where the respective neighborhood watch committees would hold meetings.
Solutions to this problem ranged from meeting at the community parks when the weather gets better, to meeting at churches, or meeting at the Metamora branch of the American Legion.
“You can reserve the community center,” Tim Neubeck, Germantown Hills village clerk, said.
For more information on neighborhood watch, Glaub said to contact he or Angela Holocker, Woodford County sheriff’s office crime prevention officer. The main line to the sheriff’s office is 467-2375.