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Watch out crims - we're watching you

The Southland Times
12 October 2010


Cromwell's six-month-old Neighbourhood Support group has helped foil attempted burglaries and an arson, contributing to a significant decline in crime, police say.

Sergeant Mike Williams, of Cromwell, said more than 400 homes had joined the scheme about 10 per cent of the town.

The first crime solved directly with the help of the group happened in the first month of its establishment, Mr Williams said.

Communication within the group had also helped police solve burglaries in the area including the recovery of thousands of dollars of shearing equipment stolen from a commercial business.

Children lighting fires in the area were also dealt with before it could get out of hand, Mr Williams said.

Crime in Cromwell had drop 26 per cent in July and 44 per cent last month compared with 2009 statistics and the neighbourhood support group had been a major contributor to the drop, he said.

Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Mike Blissett came up with the idea to start the Cromwell scheme after he had seen it work well in communities in the United Kingdon.

Mr Blissett, a former police sergeant, said he had help set up over 1000 similar groups overseas and thought it would help make Cromwell more secure.

"Elderly people are feeling safer in their own homes," he said.

Cromwell Neighbourhood Support president Annette Whitmore said the group hoped to become a charitable trust and was surviving on donations.

Delta had contributed large signs for areas in the town that were a part of the scheme, she said.

Burglars tended to stay away from areas they knew would have 10 pairs of eyes of them, Mr Blissett said.

The group hoped to eventually have two-thirds of the town involved. "We will never have nirvana but we are working towards it," Mr Blissett said.


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