Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crime Watch 2.0: Nashville neighborhoods try anti-crime signs

By Stephanie Toone • THE TENNESSEAN • November 1, 2010 Would-be criminals have a message waiting for them in the yards of 85 different homes in East Nashville, Antioch and Germantown. The two piercing eyes on black-and-white signs relay to criminals that burglaries will not be tolerated in those neighborhoods, said Manuel Delgado, Eastwood Neighbors Association member. “You’re being watched,” Delgado said. “We want to get that image burned in people’s minds. We hope those with the intent to break in will pause and move on.” Delgado and Gracie Vandiver, co-chairs of the association’s crime and safety committee, developed the sign idea this summer. By September, the association began selling the signs to residents throughout the area, Vandiver said. Nashville photographer and designer Alison Slamon designed the signs, and they sell for $10, which covers the cost of printing and contributes to the association’s crime prevention projects. The signs remind residents to call the Metro police department’s non-emergency number, 615-862-8600, if they see suspicious activity. “It’s Neighborhood Watch 2.0,” she said. “They’ve (criminals) seen the old signs so much they ignore it. Hopefully, the signs will serve as a reminder to residents to trust your gut if you see something suspicious.” Vandiver said she was motivated to raise awareness about crime when her East Nashville home was burglarized in May. She started talking to her neighbors after the break-in and realized the need for neighborhood crime prevention. “One of my neighbors said she saw someone looking in her neighbor’s window, but she didn’t call the police,” she said. “The police can’t be everywhere, but we have to inform them when we see something suspicious.” East Precinct Cmdr. Bob Nash said the effort could have an impact on crime in East Nashville and other neighborhoods. Residential burglaries in Nashville neighborhoods have increased over the last six months, he said. “This is one of the ways we can fight the burglary problem,” Nash said. “We have to use different strategies to combat it. Crooks will see that this neighborhood is engaged.” Wags and Whiskers, at 1008 Forrest Avenue, serves as the vendor for the crime watch signs. The Eastwood Neighbors Association will print 100 more signs this month, Vandiver said. Bob Acuff, who holds weekly meetings on crime in East Nashville, said he has purchased a sign for his Woodland Street home because he wants his neighbors to know he’s watching out for them. “Police officers can ride the neighborhood, but they don’t know the neighborhood better than the neighbors,” he said. “This gives our neighborhood a little energy. It’s a great idea.” Reach Stephanie Toone at 615 259-8079 or stoone@tennessean.com.

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