Block Watch Keeps Growing in Settler’s Landing in Barnegat

Sep 19, 2018
Supplied Photo

Since forming nearly a year ago,  a neighborhood block watch program in the Settler’s Landing development in Barnegat Township has been making major inroads. Block watch coordinator Laura Zinger said the group already has 12 covered blocks in the program, where she said the basic premise is “neighbors watching neighbors” and alerting local authorities of any suspicious activity.

“We have a Facebook page set up, and we have more than 625 members,” she said.

The impetus for the group’s formation was when Zinger and other concerned homeowners attended a town-wide meeting last fall in which township officials and police department members gave a primer on how to form block watch groups.

“The most important thing in the beginning was to have a number of people committed to starting a group,” she said. “Once that was established, we started making plans to form the group.”

Zinger said the key element is appointing block captains, whose responsibilities include recruiting new members, maintaining a membership list, keeping members informed about area crime and organizing crime prevention activities.

“If someone sees a burglary or a crime in progress, they can call the police department,” she said. “But if they see something suspicious but no crime in progress, then they can inform the block captain to monitor it.”

In addition, the block captain can be advised of someone leaving the area for vacation, and take steps to make sure newspapers and other items aren’t strewn around the property.

“We can also warn people of scams,” said Zinger.

Deputy Mayor Alfonso Cirulli said the block watch concept “really took off” and hopes other communities can follow suit.

“These programs are so important, especially with the opioid epidemic,” said Cirulli. “This is people looking after people, people looking after children and protecting each other and property. This is another plus for Barnegat.”

Late last month, the group held its first block party in the renovated Georgetown Boulevard park with more than 225 in attendance, said Township Committeeman Albert Bille.

“It was a pure delight seeing Barnegat youngsters  running and playing, enjoying the swings and the playground equipment,” he said.

He said the PBA gave out free candy, and the township fire company and first aid squad conducted demonstrations. The Republican Club gave out more than 200 ice cream cones. DJ Tony Del Priore entertained.

Zinger said school district Superintendent Brain Latwis stopped by and gave out free backpacks.

“So many people came and reached out to support us,” she said.

Zinger said people interested in joining the block watch may call 609-607-7642.

— Eric Englund

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