Longtime Front Porch Forum member Bob Wolf remarks that the forum in his area “acts as a neighborhood watch.” In the past week, I’ve seen messages across greater Burlington about two house buglaries, a car break-in, a missing bike, and a handful of graffiti and noise complaints. Previously, neighbors posted about a registered sexual predator who appeared to be violating the terms of his release, a child abduction (thankfully broken up before the perp. got away with the nine-year-old girl victim), and an armed home invasion.
The primary benefit appears to be neighbor helping neighbor, and everyone keeping an eye out for each other. However, Front Porch Forum also encourages and welcomes the participation of local law enforcement. The Burlington Police have been on board our flagship neighborhood forum for years. Lately South Burlington and Williston police have joined our forums in their communities.
In fact, it was a quote from Lt. Kathleen Stubbing that contributed to our decison to take our initial single neighborhood forum and launch Front Porch Forum to share the success with other areas:
“I think the forum is terrific. It is also very helpful when it comes to crime prevention. I wish all the neighborhoods in Burlington had this communication venue.” [Now they do!]
So, when a neighbor wakes up to a broken car window, she may think to tell her neighbors through her Front Porch Forum. Nearby residents are duly alerted and may be able to provide an eye-witness account. And, the police may decide to contact the victim directly and/or send a note to the neighborhood via the forum.
Other episodes are more direct. In the first week of a new neighborhood forum, a member posted a question: “Does anyone know who it is that drives through the neighborhood squealing his tires and locking up his brakes every weeknight at exactly 11:35?” The police called and asked if he minded if they camped out in front of his house at 11:30 that very night. Well… by 11:40 PM, problem solved.