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      Summer brings need for neighborhood watch

      While neighborhood watches are needed all year, Capt. Wheeler says they're particularly important in summer.

      The Cole County Sheriff's Department says now is the time to start your own or join an existing neighborhood watch.

      As the weather warms up, people will be heading out of town on vacation. But empty homes are easy targets for potential burglars, so it's important to make sure you have someone watching your property while you're away.

      Captain John Wheeler says starting a neighborhood watch is easy, you just need people; but maintaining one requires a little more work.

      "Usually a neighborhood watch program will pop up because there's an issue, then we get involved and the issue goes away, then peopel start going away from the neighborhood watch," Capt. Wheeler said.

      He added that the neighborhood watch programs allow Cole County residents to meet their local law enforcement, while law enforcement learn the concerns of the people.

      But it's also about getting to know your own neighbors and how they live, then you can recognize when something might be off.

      "We've had several instances where a neighbor knew that another neighbor was out of town and saw a suspicious vehicle and was able to call us. And we show up and sure enough it was someone trying to break into the house," Wheeler said.

      "When it starts warming up like this, more people are gonna be going about, and that's whenever you'll to see your criminals go out and start to case houses. And those are the time those neighborhood watches come in...even just by putting a sign up. The signage is so important on a neighborhood watch program."

      For more information on how you can start a neighborhood watch, click here.