Re: Security policies and security infrastructure for parking lots or entire sites
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 06:08:01 -0800 (PST)
On 13 Jan 2011, at 10:37 AM, Kristin Dunkle wrote:

> We are wondering if anyone out there can share your experience,
> policies, and/or details about your site infrastructure in terms of
> managing parking lot or whole site security in an economically diverse
> urban setting like this. What have you tried? How has it worked or not
> worked? What has the impact been on relationships within your
> community and between your community and your neighborhood?

Your situation is more extreme than ours, but I can share some things that were 
done that have helped us. We have had relatively few crimes here but can be 
guaranteed that any bicycle left out unlocked at night will be gone by morning 
because people regularly cruise the property at night looking for anything 
salable. They do the same to neighboring houses.

I find the scariest crime to be the guys, always young men 18-21 or so, who 
cruise in a car and jump out to rob people walking their dogs or going home 
from work.

Our parking lot has a 6 foot fence and is gated but the front of the property 
was purposely not fenced or gated in the belief that walls and gates both 
separate you from the neighborhood and invite crime. The gates on the parking 
lot mostly keep out wrongly parked cars, and give a sense of protection since 
that side of the property abuts a road then the train tracks — not houses. We 
had 5 cars vandalized in the lot a few months ago but this was the first time 
and part of a spree by three young men who hit a several square block area.

We have not been a target of crime specifically.

In 2000 when we moved in crime was much more frequent including murder, car 
jacking, mugging, etc. Watching the development from then to now has taught me 
that it helps to point out to people that this is ONE person or group causing 
the all the fear and loss, not a culture of wonton invasion. For example, the 
pillowcase bandit was on the loose for months. He would kick in a back door and 
use a pillow case to haul off all he could carry. Typical of most of these 
crimes, however, as soon as he was caught it stopped.

What has made the biggest difference, is the neighborhood list. During a crime 
wave in the mid-1990s a computer savvy neighbor hosted a neighborhood list—the 
software purchased by neighbors—to keep everyone informed of crimes occurring 
and to coordinate crime prevention efforts. Originally a group of 12-15, this 
list now has 1600+ members and includes local government officials including 
representatives of the police force. Whenever something happens, everyone knows 
about it and if there is no police action, everyone knows that too — including 
our city council member. 

At one point we had a police officer who was very bright and literate who 
participated in the conversation daily. He was the first "city official" to 
engage. He left to go to college and his replacements were just less verbal to 
say the least. They tried, however, and we knew they were reading the list. The 
police force now has people assigned to keep up and to report.

Our council member has a staff member who reads the list and forwards 
complaints to the appropriate city agency always closing with "and when can I 
expect a response?" The Mayor's office also has a reader on the list.

This is a neighborhood list on which all kinds of things are discussed and is 
the go-to place to ask questions about everything from recommendations for 
chimney sweeps to cake decorating supplies to how to apply for charter school 
admission. I highly recommend it for organizing a neighborhood and can give you 
more tips on how to moderate the list if you are interested. I transferred the 
list to YahooGroups in 2002 when it had 400 members and have spent a fair 
amount of time figuring out how to keep it alive and relevant once every PR 
person in DC, the home of PR, discovered it.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.