As we know Spain is a great place to live with its laid back culture, superb climate and fascinating fiestas amongst the top reasons for selling up and moving abroad. A majority of people making the decision, move to the coastal areas and generally into urbanizations where often there is a mixture of both residential and holiday homes. Unfortunately this creates an environment which is vulnerable to criminals whose belief is that we are all “rich people” and therefore easy targets for crimes such as burglary and theft.
The local police do their best to patrol sometimes but like many countries are often overstretched with other ‘priorities’.
Following a spate of incidents on our urbanization of around 150 properties, some residents investigated the option of private security patrols only to discover how expensive it would be.
Having given thought to other possibilities and with only a limited knowledge of neighbourhood watch schemes, I gathered together an initial group of residents and presented to them my ideas.
We discussed the issues which were recent burglaries, the presence of holiday tenants, builders, contractors and delivery people, holiday homes and that perceived second homes are key targets according to the Police.
I suggested some sort of “watch” scheme and subsequently contacted the Costa Blanca Neighbourhood Watch Association and with their support and guidance formed the Monte Solana Vecinos Cooperando.
The main challenge was to get the local Mayor onside and following a number of meetings, lots and lots of patience and “chipping away” we obtained not only his agreement to implement a scheme, but financial support for signage.
Canvassing a local business also generated much needed sponsorship which enabled us to produce information packs, signs for lamp pots and villas and car stickers for residential car owners. It was my prime objective that membership should be affordable to everyone and we only charge a one-off €10 for joining the scheme.
Eventually after approximately six months of planning and preparation, we launched our scheme to around fifty residents, the Mayor, Chief of Police and press representatives from English, Spanish and German local papers.
Neighbourhood Watch is about neighbours looking out for each other, being aware of what is happening in their neighbourhood and following a ‘best practice’ when it comes to crime prevention. These schemes have proved to be extremely effective in minimising the chance of you becoming a victim of crime. The NHW scheme is neither a vigilante patrol nor a shortcut to obtaining a speedier police response.
At the time of writing, since the official launch incidents have reduced by around 30% compared to the previous year, and whilst residents are regularly reminded to guard against complacency, the scheme has been extremely well received and appears to be effective.
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