Keep an eye on your neighbour’s home if you know they’re away. (submitted)

Keep an eye on your neighbour’s home if you know they’re away. (submitted)

Editorial: Be neighbourly; keep an eye on next door

There are a lot of great things about living in a small community like those around Cowichan Lake.

There are a lot of great things about living in a small community like those around Cowichan Lake.

Three cars is a traffic jam, nature is beautiful, it’s quiet — but most of all it’s the neighbours.

In a small community almost everyone counts as a neighbour, whether they live next door to you or not. You have a chance to get to know them since everyone’s going to the same places around town.

And everyone is always willing to lend a hand to everyone else. Neighbours look out for each other.

Need to borrow a lawn mower or shovel? Ask the neighbours (as long as you’re not feuding — there’s nothing like a small town feud, but that’s another story). Need a lift into town? Ask around. Have a medical issue and you need a little financial help? People will come through. Looking for somewhere to buy firewood? Well, you get the picture.

None of this living in the same home for 15 years and not ever having said “hi” to the person next door. It’s unlikely that if there’s a drug house next door any of the neighbours would be surprised — in fact almost nobody in town would be caught unawares.

Through the winter months, communities and homeowners really need to make this aspect of small-town life work for them. People who may be seasonal residents need their neighbours to keep an eye on their properties. It’s unfortunately the time of year when shady characters like to skulk around and break in to take what’s not theirs, while the owners are away and may not find out about the theft for months. Of course, the sooner the theft is noticed and reported to police, the better the chances people have of getting any of their belongings back.

Thieves may also leave a broken window or door that can let in the rain, wind and snow, further damaging the property. Animals can find their way inside, looking for a dry spot to set up house.

So if you’re a permanent resident be neighbourly, keep an eye on any suspicious characters who may be driving up a driveway where they have no business being, or slowly cruising by a home you know to be empty. Report what you see to the police so they can check it out. It may turn out to be nothing, but if it that’s not the case, you’ll kick yourself that you didn’t follow your instincts.