Block Watch Program Takes Off in Settler’s Landing

Dec 20, 2017

Since forming two months 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 nine 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 470 members,” said Zinger.

The impetus for the group’s formation was when Zinger and other concerned homeowners attended a town-wide meeting in the 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 is to have a number of people committed to starting a group,” she said. “Once that is established, we can start making plans to form the group. We’ve already had five meetings among ourselves.”

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 to make a sure that newspapers and other items aren’t strewn around the property.

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

Township Committeeman Alfonso Cirulli said the block watch concept “has really taken off,” and other communities are interested.

“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.”

 Zinger said she has set up a special phone number (609-607-7642) for people interested in being part of the block watch.

— Eric Englund

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