Last week, a woman who was alone in her home, while her husband was at work, was startled by an alleged intruder.
While the experience was likely enough to cause others in a similar situation to be terrified to the point of inaction, this Chalan Pago resident had the courage and presence of mind, while in fear, to message her village's Neighborhood Watch for help while she was distracting the man and keeping him at bay in the company of two household dogs.
Thankfully, a neighbor who is a member of the Neighborhood Watch saw her message and rushed to her residence. Ordot-Chalan Pago Mayor Jessy Gogue and his staff also saw the woman's message for help on the Neighborhood Watch chat and they too went to assist. With the help of the mayor and his staff, they kept watch over the suspect – who was described by responders as possibly intoxicated by a substance and was rolling on the ground – while police officers were being called.
What happened in this incident in Chalan Pago offers a good example of how neighbors looking out for each other and keeping in touch through their phones can help avert crimes.
"I am so thankful I was able to get those messages out and they showed up. I didn't think anyone would show up or read it because I don't know any of my neighbors," said military spouse Jessica Johnson. "The Neighborhood Watch – I feel so much better."
Guam Police Department spokesman Sgt. Paul Tapao applauded the efforts of the neighbor and the Neighborhood Watch in Ordot-Chalan Pago who helped the victim.
"One house, one street, one village at a time and that's how we work," Tapao said. "It's really a great testament of a force multiplier that it was at that moment in time the Neighborhood Watch group knew what was going on, responded and we were able to apprehend the individual."
We echo that, Sgt. Tapao.
With Guam's massive problem with break-ins and other drug-related crimes, island residents have been encouraged to band together and look out for each other for that extra safety net.
Thankfully, the presence of police officers on the streets has been more noticeable, and police response times have shown improvement.
But there are times when the first line of assistance must first come from someone close by – including our neighbors – until police help arrives.
Let's all be a part of our respective villages' Neighborhood Watch. Immediate neighbors can also simply organize together and share information and share ways to protect their homes such as through the use of security surveillance cameras. Gates and fences are becoming familiar in our neighborhoods, but in times like these, when we are under siege from random acts of crimes and violence, we have to take action.
Being proactive can make the difference between keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe – and becoming a victim of a random crime.