Neighborhood watch groups start to spring up in Jackson

Staff Writer

JACKSON — As residents throughout Ocean and Monmouth counties continue to be the victims of a recent spike in home burglaries, people in Jackson have started working with police to try to make their community less inviting to criminals.

Jackson police Sgt. John Convery said police have started to see a significant increase in the number of people who want to get involved in a neighborhood watch program.

“[I have received] no fewer than 100 calls and 75 emails regarding this topic,” Convery told the Tri-Town News this week. “By Jackson standards, that’s a lot.”

By Feb. 9, residents in Robbins Estates and the Legler section of Jackson had met with Convery and Officer Vincent Rubio in an effort to begin looking out for their fellow residents.

The Legler meeting had almost 200 people in attendance, officials said.

Other residents have also expressed an interest in taking part in a neighborhood watch, specifically in the areas surrounding Butterfly Road, Abbey Road and the new Windsor Crescent apartment complex off County Line Road.

Police are eventually hoping to see a township-wide effort that would cover every significant residential community in Jackson’s 100 square miles.

“I have gotten a lot of interest in it, and right now we would like to start [a watch] in every neighborhood in Jackson if we can,” Convery said. “We are looking to move into the Brookwoods and Flair [developments] within the next several weeks.”

Although residents and police are focusing their attention on the burglary issue right now, Convery said a program such as this could have an effect on other issues in the community.

“[The Neighborhood Watch program is] also a great way to stop drug activity in neighborhoods and to help residents recognize things they need to look out for,” Convery said.

Residents who attend meetings will be informed about the ways in which criminals are finding their way into homes, for example, by using a resident’s ladder to reach second-story windows and knocking on doors to see if anyone is home.

“In the past, if you look at studies regarding a neighborhood watch, you will see that when criminals feel they are being looked at, they are going to move on,” Convery said.

Convery said that while residents are being more vigilant about what is occurring in their neighborhoods, police officers are working to find and arrest the individuals who are committing the burglaries.

“I can tell you our detective and patrol divisions have arrested four separate groups doing this, but unfortunately, there seems to be more than four or five groups working in town, which is unusual,” Convery said. “We are doing everything in our power as a police agency to stop the [burglaries].”

Police are advising residents to lock their doors and all windows, including windows on higher floors. Ladders should be secured in a locked area.

Convery said he believes the neighborhood watch initiatives that are starting up in Jackson will have multiple benefits.

“To me, it’s so much more than a neighborhood watch. It’s neighbors learning to not just look out for each other, but also bringing a face to the friend. So many times you don’t really know who your neighbor is, and this program can change that,” the sergeant said. “When you see your neighbor as a friend, you are more inclined to help that person. When people are looking out for each other, that’s when we are going to get this to stop.”

For more information about starting a neighborhood watch group in Jackson, contact Sgt. John Convery at 732-928-3015.