The second round of the South Charlotte Homeowners Against Residential Crime competition wrapped up last month, and after five months of boosting crime prevention efforts and watching for suspicious activity, the Mountainbrook neighborhood came out on top.
The competition pits local neighborhoods against one another in an effort to reduce residential crime in their communities and the entire response area. This round challenged residents of Beverly Woods, Beverly Woods East, Cameron Wood, Mountainbrook and Olde Providence to get informed about crime prevention at the neighborhood level.
“We learned a lot throughout the competition and we developed a lot of good habits,” Elizabeth McGregor, who served as Mountainbrook’s neighborhood safety chair throughout the competition, said. “Our neighborhood is great about looking out for one another, and having the neighbors informed about what to watch for and what to call in empowers us to protect our own neighborhood.”
Each of the participating neighborhoods had a resident serve as the liaison between the community and police throughout the program, a task that McGregor tackled in Mountainbrook.
“My role was to educate the neighborhood and keep people up-to-date on what was happening with the competition,” McGregor said. “We worked on making sure we took the valuables out of cars, which includes everything from sunglasses and cords to hook up your phone or your GPS, to the obvious things like your laptop, purse, CDs and wallet.”
Police monitored the neighborhoods weekly, checking for issues that could make homes or cars potential targets for crimes including larceny from auto, car theft or residential burglary.
“The police would go around to 25 houses each week and check cars that were parked outside or on the driveway,” McGregor said. “They’d see if cars were locked, if garage doors were open or closed and if there were valuables left in the cars. For each violation they saw, we got one point. It’s an additive thing, like a golf score, so the neighborhood with the least amount of violations was the winner that week.”
Police officers left brochures explaining the program and the violations observed in residents’ mailboxes, helping neighbors learn ways to protect their personal property and make their communities safer.
“To balance out violations, police officers could talk to people who were out on a walk and ask them if they had recorded serial numbers for things like computers, stereos and TVs,” McGregor said. “We could also call in if we saw suspicious activity or people in the neighborhood who obviously don’t belong.”
When the competition wrapped up Jan. 31, police began to compare the results of the weekly audits and overall crime statistics for the neighborhoods to determine which group earned the title “Safest Neighborhood.”
In the end, Beverly Woods and Beverly Woods East tied for second place, Cameron Wood finished in third place and Olde Providence finished in fourth place.
“Being a part of this was a win-win because we were competing against other neighborhoods that were also trying to build safer communities,” McGregor said. “It’s very exciting to win, but at the end, you’re making neighborhoods aware of what they can do to make the entire community safer.”
Throughout all of Response Area 1, residential crime dropped from 2010 to 2011. Residential burglary fell 14 percent and auto theft fell 54 percent. Larceny from auto rates increased 4 percent, from 226 cases in 2010 to 236 in 2011.
Response Area 1 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is bordered by Fairview Road in the north, Providence and Rea roads in the east, Pineville-Matthews Road in the south and South Boulevard in the west. The areas served include the Park Road corridor, Quail Hollow and Carmel areas.
Find more information about the competition at the department’s website, www.cmpd.org.