City News

Let's fight crime with fun and friends

Most people would not associate crime-fighting with a massive, fun, social event, but those people do not live in Plaza Midwood.

On Tuesday, the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Watch will host its own 25th anniversary of the National Night Out and experience a Night Out in every sense of the phrase.

The National Night Out began as a take-back-the-night initiative for neighbors in communities across the country to reclaim their streets from the criminals who prowled after dark. But, over the years, organizers learned one of the evening's most salutary benefits was neighbor interaction.

Neighbors who know each other tend to care more about each other. They pay attention, and when they notice someone nosing about their neighbor's house, they don't hesitate to call 911 if that little voice inside them whispers something's amiss.

Rob Willis and Holly Gryder, Crime Watch co-captains, promise an event that will be as fun as it is informative and empowering. If your neighborhood is not holding a Night Out event, everyone is welcome to join Plaza Midwood residents at 6 p.m. as they assemble at Kilgo United Methodist Church, 2101 Belvedere Ave.

As that is the dinner hour, catered picnic baskets are available from Something Classic. Call 704-377-4202 to order or visit for a menu. There will be games and door prizes, but winners need to be present, so participants will want to stay for the 7 p.m. Neighborhood Watch Walk to Midwood Baptist Church, where the door prize drawing will take place.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Major Eddie Levins said property crime has increased all over the city. At the July 24 Neighborhood Watch meeting, he reported that burglaries from homes or sheds and larceny from autos have increased in just about every district. Capt. Mike Smathers warned neighbors against leaving any item of value within site, especially small electronics.

Willis noted that it is important to remove even the vestiges of valuable electronics, such as the suction cups that attach a GPS to the dash: “If they think it may be still be in the car, they'll smash the window to look for it.”

One never knows what will prove an enticing target, but think of how it might be perceived by a thief who is “window shopping.”

Several years ago, my car was parked in front of our house overnight, and the back window was smashed to get to the Scooby Doo lunchbox my son left on the back seat. Nothing else was taken, and two weeks later, I looked across the street to find the orange lunchbox with a goofy-looking dog smiling at me from the foot of the willow oak across the street.

We still have that lunchbox, tucked safely away, and every time I see it, it gives me hope that someday other criminals will develop a conscience. Until then, we watch.