Even if your neighborhood doesn't have a formal home watch organization set up, it's always in everyone's best interest to be proactive by staying on the lookout for property crimes. If you notice a vehicle pull into a neighbor's driveway and you believe that the neighbor isn't home, you don't need to call the police right away. Uninformed calls of this nature can clog up emergency personnel and divert them away from real emergencies. However, you should take up a vantage point in your home where you can assess the situation further to determine if you should indeed call 911. Here are some checklist items to go through.
What The Driver Is Doing
It's possible that someone has pulled into the driveway for an innocuous reason — perhaps the driver is lost and needs to ask for instructions, or has experienced vehicle problems and wanted to pull off the road. Try to get a sense of what the driver is doing. Is he or she standing at the front door and attempting to look through a window? Walking around the yard and peering through side windows? The latter behavior is suspicious and should have you ready to call 911.
Who Is Coming And Going
It's possible that your neighbor is indeed home and that the arrival is a friend or family member whom you don't know. Try to see who is coming and going. For example, if the front door opens and the guest is invited in, it might not be a problem. However, if the person appears to be forcing his or her way into the house through the door, this is a definite warning sign. Assess the activity that you see between the vehicle and the house. A big red flag is when the person is loading things from the house into the vehicle.
Gather Identifying Details
If you believe that you're witnessing some nefarious activity and wish to call the authorities, gather up as many identifying details as you can. There's a strong probability that the individual will have departed by the time the police arrive, and the details that you can provide to the dispatcher can make a big difference. Note the make, model, and color of the vehicle. If you can read the license plate, jot it down. Take a similar approach to identify any people you see, noting their color, gender, approximate height and weight, clothing, and any other identifying details you notice.
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