01/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Every Monday Matters: "They Missed... By One House"


Over 3.4 million burglaries occur annually.

60% or more of residential burglaries occur during daylight hours.

Every 14.6 seconds a burglary takes place.

Over 60% of all burglaries are by forcible entry.

The average loss per residential burglary is $1,725.

Only 17%, or 1 in 6 people, volunteer in a program that prevents crime.

Take Action Today

1. Get to know your neighbors.

2. Organize a community watch program to protect your neighborhood. Obtain training and necessary information from your local law enforcement agency.

3. Post a Neighborhood Watch sign in a visible window of your home and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

4. Ask neighbors to be observant and report suspicious or unusual activities.

5. Let your neighbors know when you'll be out of town and leave a contact number.

6. Make your home safer by installing an alarm system, placing rods in window frames, adopting a dog, and setting indoor lamps (CFLs) with timers.

A safe neighborhood is created when the people who live in it look out for one another and their property. Especially during the holiday season, when people are traveling and homes are left empty, we need to pay extra attention. Keeping a watchful eye, noticing and reporting unusual activities, and talking with neighbors to make them aware of neighborhood happenings all help to create a crime watch program and a safe community. Let's make it more difficult for burglars to do their job.

You Matter

Unfortunately, like many big cities, Los Angeles has its fair share of burglaries. The sound of helicopters circling the night's sky and the flashing lights of police cars are so common that they become something people no longer even notice. They just blend into the soundtrack of big-city living. But the big city is made up of smaller communities, blocks, houses and apartment buildings. And, fortunately for Mark Johnson, he lives in a community that cares.

"I live on a street that is lined with duplexes. It is a quiet area, but pretty nice," explained Mark. "But I must admit that all of us neighbors didn't really know each other that well... until now."

Two months ago, Mark was relaxing at home when his neighbor knocked on his door. This was a rare occurrence, but a welcomed one. "Ryan was watching the local news and it said that there had been a slew of break-ins in our community over the past few weeks and he just wanted to make sure I kept my doors and windows locked," shared Mark.

Grateful, for the tip, Mark checked all of this windows, locked his front and back doors (which he never used to do), and started to keep more of a lookout for anything suspicious.

Two weeks later, as Mark was lying in bed, he, once again heard a knock at his front door. As he made his way to the front door, the knock turned into an aggressive wrestling of the doorknob, and it became clear that someone was trying to break in.

"I immediately grabbed my phone and called 911. Then I peaked through the window next to the front door and saw a man I had never seen before. He was clearly trying to break into my home," stated Mark. "I didn't want to scare him, because I wanted to police to catch him, but I also didn't want him to successfully get inside my place, so I yelled at him and told him the police were on their way." The burglar quickly fled.

Five minutes later, Mark heard the familiar sound of a police helicopter and saw the familiar sight of the flashing lights. "It sounded like the helicopter was going to land on my roof, it was so close." As he looked out the window, he was amazed to see that the police had apprehended the suspect. Once the police car had driven away with the burglar in custody, the neighborhood started to convene in the street to speak with the remaining police officers. It turns out they had been staking the area, so they were not far away when Mark placed the call.

It was a job well done. A community at work to protect one another and a bonding experience for a small street in the middle of a big city.

"It's funny, now we even call each other to remind one another to move their car on street cleaning days," shared Mark. "I'm not sure that the parking-ticket people like us too much any more, but we sure appreciate each other a lot more."

Please visit to buy the book, get involved, and share your stories about making a difference in the world. You Matter.