SC’s Only (Virtual!) Neighborhood Watch


White Oaks has another claim to fame besides pricey, smaller homes:  it has the only Neighborhood Watch program in San Carlos.

Ken Castle, who works for a security company specializing in high-end equipment and services, started it several years ago after a rash of car tire slashings.  “That was my first encounter with the police department here,” Castle said.

Castle, who relocated from Burlingame four years ago, says he was shocked to learn the City only had three patrol cars at night.

Thus began Castle’s crash course on the “police situation,” even going so far as to ride along with deputies.  “People think it’s a sleepy town,” Castle said of San Carlos.  “But the El Camino is the artery of crime, people have no clue, there’s lots of stuff going on and I thought, what on earth can we do?”

With the help and support of the police department, Castle organized White Oak’s Neighborhood Watch…2.0 style.

It’s a virtual organization, without officers, dues or regular monthly meetings.  Communication is through a twice-monthly e-newsletter and an as-needed email alert system (after brief trials with a blog and Facebook) that, so far, goes out to 400 families.

“The membership list keeps growing by word of mouth,” Castle said, adding that the concept of a virtual Neighborhood Watch works just fine.

Last Spring, parents were reassured that concerns over a possible molester proved unwarranted by the Sheriff’s Department.  More recently, Castle used the e-newsletter to share information about the house fire on St. Francis that displaced a family of four.

Heidi Morrison, who recently took charge of Neighborhood Watch for the SC Police Bureau, explained each street or block is independent of the other participating blocks, adding, “This is in efforts to keep residents familiar with their neighbors and what is normal for their street.”  Forty blocks are signed up in the White Oaks’ program, according to Ken Castle.

With 2,000 houses in White Oaks – covering about one square mile in size – the neighborhood has about 22 entrances, an ongoing concern to Castle who believes it’s easier for would-be criminals to get in and out of White Oaks than, say, the hills.

Castle holds out hopes that, one day, White Oaks Neighborhood Watch will take it to the next level and install security cameras at each corner house, linking the entire area together.

Other information:

To sign up for the White Oaks e-alerts & e-newsletters or inquire about becoming a block captain:

Neighborhood Watch also promotes: emergency preparedness & community involvement

Organizer Ken Castle recommends:  a video camera security system (he’s less enthusiastic about burglar alarm systems b/c of false alarms, but says something is much better than nothing)

Castle also says:  Don’t hesitate to report suspicious persons or vehicles!




Filed Under: Column 2San Carlos News


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