FF12: A look inside neighborhood watch programs that deter burglars

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) "Put a sign in yard that says you have an alarm and neighborhood watch."

"Have a security and neighborhood watch."

Those are two direct quotes from convicted burglars telling FactFinder 12 how people can avoid falling victim to home burglaries. They're two pieces of advice that have Carolyn Bunch proud of what she's created in her Wichita neighborhood.

"I usually preface it by saying, hey, I'm not trying to be a nosy neighbor but I noticed your garage door is open and I know that's not normal for you," Bunch said.

Bunch has lived in Country Lakes for 29 years. She's the vice president of the Homeowners' Association and the work order coordinator. If you live in Country Lake, you've likely met her, talked with her and seen her about the neighborhood always with a smile and a wave.

When it comes to her neighbors, Bunch knows more than most.

"I've gotten to know the neighbors and so I kind of know work schedules and who's retired and who's not and where people work," she said.

If she sees an open garage or newspapers piling up, she said she makes sure to check, just in case. Usually her checks don't find anything wrong.

"The other night one of the units that are for sale, I noticed lights on in the unit and I know that the owner lives in Kansas City. So I called the owner and said hey, there's someone in your unit. Is there supposed to be? And she said yeah that was her friend just staying," Bunch said.

She regularly walks around the neighborhood visiting with neighbors and taking note of what they drive, what they do and what would be unusual. She said she encourages neighbors to let her know if they're going to be out of town or if they need someone to keep a watchful eye on their home while they're away.

Bunch said, it's worth it to keep checking.

"It's that one in a hundred chance that somebody would be hurt and they're glad that somebody's checking. I'd certainly want somebody to check on me if they didn't see me around," Bunch said.

Neighborhood watch programs are one deterrence according to a few convicted burglars. Bunch said there's never been a problem in her neighborhood and she believes her close eye on the place will keep it that way.

"It's just a matter of hey, somebody cares about you and is watching out for you," she said.

Not every neighborhood can have a Carolyn. However, most neighbors have cell phones. There are several mobile phone apps available that act as electronic neighborhood watch programs.

NextDoor is one app that lets you put in your address and connect with your neighbors. You can talk about anything from suspicious vehicles and who is on vacation to garage sales.

There's the HOA Alert app too where you can write concerns involving suspicious people or vandalism. Those messages will go to all of your neighbors.

BlackBox Digital Witness is another one where you can connect directly with law enforcement and emergency contacts. You can send pictures and videos too.

All of these apps are free and can supplement neighborhood watch programs or be a way to begin to get neighbors talking about their neighborhood.