Signs identifying the area as under the protection of a newly formed neighborhood watch program will soon be posted along the streets and roads around Cedar Hills, just off Murphy Lane south of Moab.
The watch group’s first meeting in mid-September had a sort of community picnic atmosphere, with residents wearing nametags, munching on snacks and introducing themselves to neighbors they might not know otherwise.
And while the gathering may have initially appeared informal, Sheriff White said that the socializing was one of the best things the group could do to help each other.
“The best thing is communication,” White said. “The main thing is to get to know each other. Get a feel for who is supposed to be there and who isn’t.”
White introduced the group to a series of tools available on the Grand County Sheriff’s website, including the Uniform Crime Report for Utah, which shows all the crimes that have been committed within certain areas, the Utah Sex Offender Registry, and the vacation house check form.
All of the break-ins in the neighborhood occurred at houses that were empty while the owners were out of town, White said. He explained that the vacation house check form notifies the sheriff’s department to keep an extra eye on the home because it will be vacant.
Quent Baker is one of the residents who helped Holcomb organize the program.
“This is a grassroots program,” Baker said. “We want this to be our program.”
Baker explained that he regularly keeps an eye on suspicious vehicles when he sees them in the neighborhood.
Baker spearheaded the idea of putting the “Neighborhood Watch” signs up in the area.
“The signs let people know that we care about one another, and we look out for one another,” he said.
Holcomb said that even though the signs will only be put up in the Cedar Hills area, local residents throughout the county should keep an eye out for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.
“This pertains to our whole community, not just here,” she said.
As part of the program, neighbors will keep an eye out for people and vehicles in the neighborhood that they don’t recognize. They will also let others know when they will be out of town, and will call the sheriff’s office if they notice any suspicious activity.
“When in doubt, give us a shout,” White said.
He said that all too often people see something they think is suspicious but they’re afraid to call because it might be nothing.
“I would rather you call us,” White said.
White said that while he’s not sure whether there are any existing neighborhood watch programs within the city limits, the Cedar Hills neighborhood watch is the first in the county, at least in the two years since he became sheriff.
“The great thing about this program is that [the residents] are going to be our eyes and ears,” he said.
For more information about starting a neighborhood watch program, contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Department at 435-259-8115.