Realtors vs. burglary
Real estate brokers in a growing number of communities are mapping out their ''crime-prevention beat,'' part of a new program called Realtor Watch. Its effectiveness in cutting down crime, particularly home burglaries, has been impressive to everyone involved. Commendations are coming from many law enforcement and government leaders, including President Reagan.
The Realtor Watch program was first tested in York, Pa. Many of the new programs now starting are patterned after that initial program in which the volunteer efforts of local brokers resulted in a dramatic reduction in crime.
Soon after the program was launched in that midsize city, home burglaries dropped 27 percent. Other crimes fell an average of 18.2 percent. That's the lowest local crime rate in the last 10 years, York police chief William M. Hose reports.
''A big part of that drop in crime is attributable to Realtor Watch,'' the chief asserts. ''We are encouraged by the program because it prevents crime before it happens.''
The idea is for the brokers, who spend a lot of time in their cars showing houses to prospective buyers, to keep a close watch on what is going on in the community.
The York police chief points out that Realtor Watch complements Neighborhood Watch programs already in effect in many communities.
The program has helped real estate people and others in a community to be more aware of crime and to report suspicious activities so they can be promptly investigated, according to Carolyn Eagan, chairman of the Realtor Watch advisory board in Pennsylvania.
''In no way do we try to become physically involved in trying to prevent crime,'' she says. ''We aren't a vigilante group, but because of our profession we make regular travels through residential areas and are often in a position to see crime about to happen as well as crimes in progress.''
National statistics show that most residential burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday when the husband and wife are out to work and the children in school. Realtor Watch participants are providing badly needed extra sets of eyes and ears during that period.
When agents first agree to participate in the program, they attend a training seminar session conducted by the local police department. They learn, for example, how to become more aware of suspicious activities as they go about their business. Further, they are taught how to report those activities so that police can respond quickly and effectively.
When the agents complete their training, they are issued cards that identify them as participants in the Realtor Watch. The cards include their pictures and emergency calling instructions.
President Reagan has recognized the program as an ''invaluable force for peace and order,'' and commended the growing number of Realtors Watch committees now forming throughout the country for their volunteer efforts to cut down home burglaries and other crime.
One of those local committees has just been launched in the metropolitan Denver area. Richard Moody, chairman of the local committee in Aurora, a Denver suburb, says he was surprised at the strong support and participation. Three initial seminar sessions were filled to capacity, he reports.
Already the Denver area committee has received letters of commendation from Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm and the local city council.
''We really appreciate the encouraging words,'' Mr. Moody says. ''I guess it is a bit unusual for a group of business people from the private sector to devote so much time and money to help solve a community problem.''
The Denver area Realtor Watch committee is planning a continuing series of semi-monthly awareness training seminars. Basic training in the program will be integrated into the local board of realtors orientation sessions for new members.