In just 24 hours, I’ve encountered two separate conversations about trust between neighbors. One conversation revolved around two neighbors who hadn’t spoken in years over a minor property line dispute, which produced a lot of tit for tat behavior, and the other was about a neighbor stealing two bicycles from another. While examining these conversations and in looking for feedback from others on trust between neighbors, I’ve come to the realization that a lot of people don’t really even know their neighbors, much less do they trust them. And, yes, in some instances I’ve heard of people being a bit too trusting of neighbors who haven’t earned that trust and who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy.
Develop a Polite Vigilance
Now, we’ve been known to advise our readers to join (or start) their own Neighborhood Watch Program. We stand behind this suggestion as such programs have been known to reduce crime in areas where members are the most active and vigilant. We’ve also been known to advise our readers to get to know their neighbors better and to offer friendly assistance when it comes to sharing home security information. Of course, we believe that most of your neighbors are good people and that looking out for one another is in the best interest of the entire neighborhood.
None of our neighborly advice, however, is intended to suggest that someone should get a free pass from your watchful eyes just because they live near you. I like to call this attitude polite vigilance. Essentially, it involves being kind and neighborly while never letting your guard down to the possibility that a neighbor just may be a criminal…and plotting to make you their next victim.
Suggestions for Polite Vigilance Include:
- Never give a neighbor carte blanche access to your home or yard, especially if you haven’t known them for very long or very well.
- Do not allow your neighbors to “borrow” items from a tool shed or garage without your express permission.
- Do not ask neighbors you don’t know well to keep an eye on your home while you’re traveling. In fact, when going out of town try to only let neighbors whom you have built trust with know about your plans and, even then, it’s a good idea to ask more than one trusted neighbor to keep an eye out, just in case.
- Do not share info with your neighbors about any expensive items that you may keep hidden in your home.
- At appropriate times during conversation with neighbors, do casually mention that you layer your home’s security, but do not offer too many specifics. The goal here is to let a potential criminal know that you are vigilant about home security and that your house is secured in ways that will make breaking into it difficult…and any attempts will likely lead to a thief’s capture and imprisonment.
- If you live in a private community with controlled access
areas, never ever share or loan a key or an access card to a neighbor unless you know that person very, very well.
- Teach children to safely store bikes and other toys where they belong when they’re done playing with them.
- Do not leave tools and equipment that are not in use out in the open or in an unlocked outdoor storage.
- Do not leave your garage or patio doors open when you are not at home.
- Do not advertise your work routine to your neighbors. In fact, it’s a good idea, in general, to change your routine occasionally just in case someone– neighbor or not– is watching your home while plotting a burglary.
Building Trust With Neighbors
Naturally, most of your neighbors are trustworthy people. We don’t ever want you to automatically avoid getting close to your neighbors for fear that one of them might eventually rip you off. All we are suggesting here is that you don’t instantly assume that someone isn’t a criminal just because they keep their lawn trimmed and perhaps smile and speak to you when you see one another.
Some of the ways that you can work to build trust between neighbors includes engaging in conversation and developing a rapport, slowly getting to know one another better on a personal level, and waiting until you’ve met other people in the neighbor’s life (other family members who don’t live with them, co-workers, friends, etc.) before you allow them a bit more access into yours. This may sound like a lot of work, but building a relationship usually is. If you intend to know your neighbors beyond offering a quick wave in the afternoon, consider that these tips are actually a natural progression in any relationship. To keep an even closer eye on your neighbors, think about finding an affordable Home Surveillance System.
What Do You Think?
So tell us, how much do you trust your neighbors? Criminals have to live somewhere. How do you know one isn’t living next door to you?