I was sitting at my computer late one night recently, probably working diligently. I may have been playing Minecraft now that I think about it.
I got a text from my neighbour who was also up late working (working at improving his ranking on NBA2k17). He had spotted someone in his front yard, peering into the window of his home.
I quickly went and checked outside but they'd left the street, so I went and double checked all our locks, made sure our overweight Labrador was ready to pounce, and texted my other neighbours whose numbers I had.
What I didn't do though was go up and down the street and knock on doors. So those in my street whose numbers I don't have... sorry.
When some new neighbours moved in on the other side recently I made a point to also grab their contact number, and hand them mine... just in case.
But there's a lot of people in our street who I know keep to themselves, and I'd be very surprised if they had given their mobile number to anyone.
It's handy at times being part of an online Facebook neighbourhood watch groups.
But coming across that info most of the time is serendipitous at best, and usually irrelevant by the time you've seen it in your FB feed.
But if you have a handful of your neighbours' phone numbers in your device, and they have yours, you stand a much better chance of being alerted to something suspicious in a timely manner.
In my experience, most would-be thieves are opportunistic. If people start coming out onto the street or turning on lights while they're scoping the place out, they'll likely just keep walking. And while you may not see an actual crime take place, someone else may have just been robbed or worse, and knowing where the suspect is heading can be very useful information for the police.
So make an excuse to pop over to your neighbour's house and swap numbers. Being connected is the first step in improving the safety of our neighbourhoods.