Nelson Ruest is a Block Watch captain for his condo building along the Songhees walkway in Victoria West.

Block Watch program an effective tool for crime prevention

Whenever Bonnie Hardy takes her dog for a walk through her James Bay neighbourhood, she isn’t just out for a leisurly stroll.

Whenever Bonnie Hardy takes her dog for a walk through her James Bay neighbourhood, she isn’t just out for a leisurly stroll.

Being a Block Watch captain, she’s keeping an eye open for any suspicious activity in an effort to make sure her neighbourhood continues to be a safe place to live.

Several residents living on Government, Toronto, Heather, Powell and Michigan streets are now part of the Block Watch program. Hardy signed up two years ago and has noticed a reduction in crime.

“I remember one year (before Block Watch) on Government Street everybody’s tires were punctured. Someone just went through with a big knife,” said Hardy, who’s lived in the neighbourhood since 1997.

“We don’t see much of that anymore. We used to have street people coming down, but now there’s not.”

According to Victoria police, the Block Watch program is about neighbours helping neighbours. Households, apartments or condos on a block form a communication chain aided by a map of names, telephone numbers and addresses. Participants watch out for each others homes and report suspicious activities to the police and each other to reduce the likelihood of residential crime.

The program was initiated in Seattle in 1974, with participating homes seeing a 48 to 62 per cent decrease in residential break-ins. Surrey was the first municipality to start a Block Watch program in B.C. It has since spread throughout several communities across the province.

Roughly 10 to 12 years ago, the program started in Esquimalt, then was later introduced to Victoria residents as well. Now all neighborhoods in Victoria and Esquimalt are on board.

“The response was overwhelming. I am constantly getting emails and phone calls from people inquiring about Block Watch or how to join,” said Kimberly Kelley, community programs coordinator with the Victoria police.

“It brings neighbours together, so once people get out and start talking to one another it becomes a natural fit.”

Victoria police don’t track any stats for Block Watch crime trends, but Kelley said it’s an effective crime prevention tool and technique that makes people open their eyes, pay attention and question certain things that may be happening in their neighbourhood they may not otherwise be aware of.

About 85 per cent of residents living in a 90-unit condo along the Songhees walkway singed up for Block Watch last year.

According to Block Watch captain Nelson Ruest, some of the crime that happens downtown has now made its way into his neighbourhood, prompting residents to be more conscious about security.

A few weeks ago, an encampment was created on the banks of the water beside the building. Some Block Watch residents contacted police to make sure it didn’t become permanent.

“It just makes our environment more secure,” said Ruest. “It’s for us to have our neighbours more watchful, more careful. Even a simple thing like when you come into the garage and make sure you wait until its closed before you proceed just increases our level of safety.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31. (Photo: Cory Olson)
Time to get batty for International Bat Week

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31

Black Press Media took to the streets of Colwood to find houses decorated for Halloween. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Check out these Colwood homes ready for Halloween

Halloween takes place on Saturday, Oct. 31

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read