Representatives of neighborhood crime watch groups from throughout the Carbon County area came together recently in an open forum to discuss what works in their respective areas to deter crime.

With the idea of "neighbor helping neighbor," the crime watch representatives joined forces to exchange ideas, information, and handouts to address the matter of properly preventing, deterring, and reporting crime.

"Our goal is not for our citizens to be hands-on law enforcement officers," said Lehighton Mayor Donald Rehrig. "We want to educate community members how to recognize a crime and properly report it. Education is key to preventing crime."

"Again, we're not asking our citizens to be police officers. We're asking you to be additional 'eyes and ears' of our police officers," agreed Nesquehoning Mayor Tony Walck. "If you see something suspicious, write down the license plate number of the car. The police will look into it."

"If you see unusual activity, call it in," continued Walck. "Something minor can turn into something major in a hurry." Nesquehoning Crime Watch was formed seven years ago.

According to Summit Hill Mayor Paul McArdle, Walck and the Nesquehoning group were instrumental in helping to organize Summit Hill Neighborhood Watch.

"The police can't be everywhere at the same time. They need the help of our citizens," echoed McArdle. "If there is something out of the ordinary, call!"

"There's a 'mayor' on every block in every community. They sit on their porches and know everything that is going on in the neighborhood. That's a good thing," said Jim Thorpe Mayor Michael Sofranko. "They're the ones we need to talk to and educate how to report suspicious activity. Believe me, it works!"

Sofranko also offered an interesting observation that an important crime deterrent can simply be having a dog.

"Why could our grandparents keep their doors unlocked?" he asked. "Because they had a dog."

In addition to representatives from the various neighborhood crime watch groups, concerned citizens from the Penn Forest area also attended the meeting. They are interested in organizing such a group in their community.

Established in 1972, Neighborhood Watch has proven to be one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country.

One definite theme was central throughout the entire meeting. Whether it is burglars, drug dealers, shoplifters, or anyone else engaging in any kind of illegal activity - they don't like to be watched.

All of these neighborhood crime watch groups are always looking for more community members to step forward and help be additional "eyes and ears" of law enforcement.

According to Jim Thorpe Community Watch Coordinator Jamie Solomon, "By networking, sharing ideas, and collecting donations to purchase such things as crime watch signs, we feel that joining together will make us all stronger in our shared mission."

"Spread the word and stay active in our communities," added Lehighton Area Neighborhood Crime Watch Coordinator Byron Schnell. "We'll make it work throughout Carbon County."

Meetings of the individual neighborhood crime watch groups will continue as usual. All interested community members are invited and encouraged to attend - and become involved.

Future Carbon County Community Watch meetings will alternate between participating neighborhood crime watch groups. Jim Thorpe will host the next one. The date and time have not been determined.

For more information about Carbon County Community Watch, contact Solomon at (570) 325-4995 or secretary@jtpolice.org [1]. Contact Schnell at (610) 377-1926 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NeighborhoodCrimeWatch [2].