A FEELING of unrest in her own home inspired Cowes resident Arjava Stephenson to create the Watching Island Neighbourhood (WIN) group recently.
After an attempted burglary at her home and a spate of crime across Phillip Island and San Remo, Arjava decided to act.
The group is a Phillip Island and San Remo Neighbourhood Watch group, and the W.I.N Facebook page has racked up over 500 likes since it was launched two months ago.
Arjava said she was responding to what she had seen on Facebook when she created the group.
“I was seeing a lot of people in various areas of the Island saying they’d just had someone in their backyard,” she said.
“A lot of people who live on their own have been quite scared.
“People started saying ‘Have we got a neighbourhood watch?’ and there didn’t seem to be one so I thought ‘I’m going to start it’.
“People are still like, ‘It’s Phillip Island, it’s country and relaxed, we don’t need to lock our doors, we don’t need to lock our cars’, but actually they do.
“We’re only one hour from where there’s a huge crime rate around Cranbourne and further on, and now those criminals from there think it’s nothing to travel an hour.
“We can’t bury our heads in the sand anymore, we actually have to wake up and do something about it.”
The group has been well received by the public, with 23 volunteers putting their hand up to join the committee and the local police are supportive of the initiative.
W.I.N has locked in its first project, Coffee with a Cop, following the success of the recent Wonthaggi event.
Local police will be available for a coffee and chat on Thursday, October 6 at the Three Aces Café at 148 Thompson Avenue, Cowes from 10.30am to 11.30am.
Other projects planned include Operation Knock, Knock, where residents will be provided with letters to introduce themselves to neighbours and build partnerships, whilst bringing the community closer together.
Operation Who’s There will be looking for sponsors to provide indoor viewers, or peep holes, to install on front doors of houses with vulnerable people like the elderly and women who live alone.
Operation Lock It was a great success in Wonthaggi recently, when police installed theft prevention screws on car number plates, and it will be coming to Phillip Island soon.
Arjava said a long-term project of W.I.N is to create the Community Eyes register.
“One of our goals is to have someone on every street on the Island who gets to know everyone on the street and swaps numbers with holiday house owners,” she said.
“When they’re going about their business, they’ll take notice of any windows that are left open or a door blown open or any strange cars or strange people on the property.
“There are a lot of burglaries at holiday houses so we basically need the community to come together, get to know each other, look out for each other and form a relationship with police.
“The more the community know each other and the more they look after each other, the more likely they’ll have information to give the police when something happens.
“We’re trying to get people to be more comfortable with talking to the police, because a lot of people are scared of talking to the police and they don’t want to bother them.”
How you can help
The W.I.N group is largely promoted through its Facebook page, which can be found by typing @w.i.n3922 in the Facebook search bar, or visiting www.facebook.com/W.I.N3922
The group is looking for more volunteers, so please message Arjava via the Facebook page or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
To take responsibility of your street on the community eyes register, please email your name, email, phone number and your street and town.
W.I.N will have a newsletter up and running soon. To subscribe, send an email.