Crime in cohousing
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2006 12:31:41 -0800 (PST)
I would think cohousing would be slightly less likely as a crime attractant
than the surrounding homes just from the fact that most of the intentional
designs require walking to the house in full view of many neighbors.  Con
artists might find the friendly atmosphere incouraging, and the neighborhood
communication networks to be discouraging. Urban areas have higher crime
rates, thus one could expect urban cohousing to require more security and
have higher crime potential than suburban and rural areas. We had a couple
of clowns show up last summer who starting asking a couple of kids questions
about the "Jones" family, if they were on vacation, etc. The kids knew there
were no such people living here, and within two minutes one adult was
talking with these characters while another pointedly wrote down their
license number. Later this number was given to the sherriff in response to
some house thefts that occurred the next day down the road. The description
of the men, the vehicle and the license number led to their arrest. 

Another time a white sedan parked on the upper edge of our property along
the side of the road. I approached it and the obviously bemused person
showed me his badge, he was a non-uniformed cop writing up a report on what
he thought would be a quite side road. Turns out I was the fifth person in
half an hour to approach and talk with him. He congratulated me on my
neighborhoods security. 

We have had mail stolen before and so we moved the mailboxes to be much more
visible from several houses and that ended that problem. 

I think personal security is a primary feature of cooperative living. You
know your neighbors and you can rely on them to look out for each other.
This is not a crimeproof system, but offers much more security than when
your neighbors are anonymous strangers. We have been leaders in the local
area in incouraging block watch and neighbor to neighbor meetings to talk
with each other, learn where we all live and make some headway in spreading
the connections we share, to a broader community around us. I would think in
an urban setting, a cohousing community could add a huge value in such

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer
The Environmental Science School
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-----Original Message-----
From: Eris Weaver [mailto:erisw [at]] 
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2006 10:22 AM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: RE: [C-L]_ Possible cohousing financial crime spree

> (Personal observation: I am mystified as to why they would target 
> cohousing communities. If I wanted to operate financial scams, 
> cohousing is the LAST place I would go. Too many smart, informed 
> residents, and they all talk to each other.

And we are friendly, outgoing, trusting, and talk to people. We put all
kinds of information about ourselves in public places, including bios with
our kids names and pictures on our websites.

I realize I have a criminal mind; if I wanted an easy mark for all sorts of
things, cohousing would be it!

It would be very easy for someone to walk into our common house, make off
with the recycle bin that is in the mail area, and find lots of identifying
info. Plus, some of our members leave their mailbox keys in their slots! So
it would be VERY easy for someone to make off with fodder for identity
theft. There is info on bulletin boards about who is on vacation, and when
we will have big events in the common house (meaning unoccupied apartments).

We've had break-ins, stolen cars & bicycles, and petty theft. Some people
still leave their doors unlocked or don't properly lock the gates and sheds.
Some of our members are still hesitant to confront strangers walking through
the property. The police say we're known as an easy mark for theft because
we leave too much stuff unsecured.

Just the other day I saw somebody walking around the property in a hard hat
and reflective vest with a clipboard. I was on my way out so I didn't talk
to him; mentioned it to my friend who said,"oh, must be doing some work."
Well, I also happen to own a similar hard hat and vest, now wouldn't that be
a great costume for casing a place?

Eris Weaver                 erisw [at]
Cotati, CA

"The cure for anything is saltwater -
sweat, tears, or the sea."  
                        - Isak Dinesen 

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