What to do if You Witness a Crime in Your Neighborhood

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Even in the best neighborhoods, crime can occur – and sometimes, innocent bystanders are there to see it. If you are in your home, yard, automobile, or elsewhere in your neighborhood and you happen to witness a crime in progress, there is a protocol to follow in order to do your civic duty.

What to do if You Witness a Crime in Your Neighborhood

Here is what our Delaware home security professionals recommend:

  • Call 911 if it is an emergency crime only, such as assault, robbery or burglary. If you witness a non-emergency crime (say, a traffic incident or a city ordinance violation), contact your local non-emergency police dispatch line.
  • Let the 911 or police dispatch operator control the conversation. If you talk incessantly, it will not help the operator fill out the report. Listen to the questions, and answer slowly and accurately.
  • Make sure you report the type of crime and the accurate location (give a physical address with cross streets). If you see the crime take place in front of a specific address, give them that address. The homeowner at that address will not know who called the police; the police will not tell them).
  • Give an accurate description of the suspect(s) in the crime. That includes weight, height and color of hair and skin. The police need this information to locate and identify the suspects. Any other information, such as clothing and tattoos, is also helpful.
  • Give an accurate description of the victim or victims. Follow any instructions the operator gives you.
  • Stay on the line until the police arrive, or until the operator says you can hang up.

The saying is true: If you see something, you need to say something. However, your own safety is important too. Some witnesses are effective at stopping crimes in progress, while others get themselves into trouble attempting to do so. If your own safety is compromised, it is best to call the police immediately and listen to their instructions for handling what you are witnessing. Our Delaware home security firm hopes this information has been helpful, and that it has given you the courage to report any crimes you witness in your neighborhood.

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