San Francisco — Real estate agents can help in a big way to prevent crime. They not only can, but are doing so in many Bay Area communities, according to the crime-prevention unit of a West Coast police department.
Because real estate agents are very knowledgeable about their specific working locations (who lives where, what property is vacant, who may be on vacation, who works nights, and so forth) and because in their jobs they are very mobile, many agents have banded together into Santa Clara County community programs called Realtor Watch.
Under the plan, photo identification cards with police emergency numbers are issued. Then under the plan realtors are asked to notify police:
* If there are suspicious activities in any neighborhood.
* If vacant property has been inhabited or vandalized.
* Regarding persons or cars that appear to be in need of surveillance.
Real estate volunteers are told not to make contact with possible criminals in any case, but to report from a nearby phone as soon as possible. Police say they would rather check out a possible problem early than be called for an investigation after it might be too late.