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Columbia Neighborhood Watch trains residents how to prevent crime

The Columbia Neighborhood Watch and Columbia Police Department trained a group of residents how to prevent crime in their neighborhoods Tuesday.

In 2015, there were more than 1,000 burglaries in Boone County. In those burglaries, nearly $1.8 million worth of property was stolen.

Columbia police said having more residents actively involved in neighborhood watches across the community is proven to bring down those crime numbers.

Columbia resident Kathy Lachman said she came to the neighborhood watch training because she noticed an increase of crime in her neighborhood.

“We’ve had so many robberies in Auburn Hills,” Lachman said. “So I at least want to know what to look for and help the police.”

Sgt. Mike Hesir is the supervisor of the community outreach unit for the Columbia Police Department. Hestir said the neighborhood watch ties into the community outreach efforts because it encourages neighbors to watch out for one another and fosters a strong community spirit.

“It’s proven that a strong neighborhood watch will improve community safety,” Hestir said. “It will discourage burglaries, drag those numbers down and it will prevent crimes from happening from where the police are called sooner rather than later.”

In 2008, a U.S. Justice Department study showed there was a 16 percent decrease in crime in neighborhood crime watch communities compared to other areas.

Officer Amy Bishop said that is because neighborhood watches help get police to the scene quicker.

“Neighbors in their area know what’s out of the normal more than we do driving through that area as police officers,” Bishop said. “So it’s better to have your neighbors looking out and then calling to let us know if there’s suspicious activity.”

Irwin Schneider, the president of the Columbia Neighborhood Watch, encouraged residents to join the neighborhood watch before crime affects them.

“Of course most people get most interested when they have problems in their neighborhood,” Schneider said. “We’d really love for people to get interested before that and maybe help prevent some of these crimes from taking place.”‘

About 3,000 to 4,000 residents are members of the Columbia Neighborhood Watch, according to Schneider.

If you’re interested, you can contact the Columbia Neighborhood Watch here.

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