Stories of strangers going door to door in Brocklehurst asking for money prompted the creation of an online neighbourhood watch that is about to leap from the computer screen to the streets.
Administrator Elly Grabner said Brock Neighbourhood Watch garnered more interested than she imagined, with the Facebook group adding 200 members within 24 hours.
Plans are now in motion to go old school, with members hitting the pavement to be the eyes and ears of police and each other, Grabner told The Daily News.
“It’s certainly taken off a lot faster than I thought it would,” she said Wednesday.
Brock Neighbourhood Watch formed on the night of Aug. 8 after Grabner heard several stories from residents about a stranger knocking on doors in the area of Newton and Stardust streets near Parkcrest Avenue.
Several people have told the same story, she said. Between noon and 2 p.m. a man in his early 20s knocks on a door and asks whoever answers for $20 so his friend can get to the airport.
His description varies from storyteller to storyteller, but the male is always Caucasian and wears either a hoodie or baseball cap, said Grabner.
She said a report was made to the RCMP, who believe the male or males could be casing homes for a potential break-in.
“Otherwise it’s just a weird thing? Who does that?” asked Grabner.
The story about the man asking for money in Brocklehurst made her want to keep her neighbours informed, she said.
Now there’s an interest in taking things to the next level, with several members wanting to launch patrols around the neighbourhood.
“Just to be a presence in the neighbourhood.”
She’s spoken with Sandro Piroddi, crime prevention co-ordinator for the City, who thinks the group and patrols are a great idea.
He intends to set up a meeting between group members, the City and RCMP to offer tips and advice to make the watch a success, said Piroddi.
“It’s a great thing and I’m hoping that we can build on this,” he said. “Our philosophy is that communities have to take ownership of their areas to protect themselves.”
The City operates Citizens on Patrol in co-operation with the RCMP. He said volunteers take intelligence provided by the police and act as their eyes and ears, usually on Friday and Saturday nights.
At one time there was the North Shore Safety Patrol, which consisted of residents who kept an eye out for trouble. Piroddi said the group has since disbanded.
RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush agrees that Brock Neighbourhood Watch is a great idea as long as people stick to observing and reporting. She pointed out the group isn’t sanctioned by the police.
There was a time when groups like this were common and neighbours looked out for each other, she said.
“It’s getting back to good old-fashioned neighbourhood roots,” said Bush. “I think we’ve gotten away from that.”