Trust your neighbors ?

How to manage all kinds of neighbors to your advantage

They can be either an array of threats around your home or tripwires that will signal imminent danger!

Trust your neighbors? – published on May 11, 2021

The key factors for understanding neighbors:

    1. Very few people get to choose their neighbors.
    2. They have a legal right to maintain a position where they can keep your home under constant surveillance.
    3. This means they can monitor your movements and determine your family’s schedule.
    4. Humans have exceptional pattern recognition and association skills and can exploit a stream of data like your daily schedule.

Neighborhoods are the immediate environment where we live. This area has the greatest geographic effect on how secure and peaceful our life is. You cannot have a peaceful home unless you can trust your neighbors.

What is a neighbor?

Neighbors are people who live in close proximity to your home and can observe the patterns of your daily life. This knowledge gives them the ability to directly impact the sanctity of your home at the most crucial times. If you are not home when a burglar attempts to enter your home, a neighbor can save that sanctity. Conversely, if your neighbor decides to be the burglar, they will know exactly when to strike. For close neighbors, the opportunity to help or hinder is always there.

Put yourself in the position of a “traditional” bank robber that is going for a big score. He will enter a bank wearing a ski mask and carrying a pistol. This is a high risk venture. The robber will want as much information about every aspect of the bank’s security system as he can get. This starts with the schedules of everyone who works there. Our robber will want to set up a clandestine observation post near the bank and monitor movements and schedules until there are no surprises. He will note the response times of the employees for key events like cash transfers. Your neighbors have such an observation post and all the time in the world to observe your behavior. Information wants to be free, and you let it seep out of your home every day.

Neighbors with a visual on the front of your home can monitor your life. Things that can be observed include:

  1. The schedule of everyone departing and returning
  2. The response time for answering the front door
  3. What curtains and blinds are open during the waking hours
  4. What rooms are lit up at night
  5. When deliveries like food, water, and packages are received
  6. Services like garbage pickup and pest control
  7. When pets are let outside
  8. Data signals like your Wi-Fi
  9. If you have a generator running during a power outage

Notice that this is mostly a list of times and duration’s. The household schedule is a repeating pattern that can predict the future. When combined with the associative skills that humans possess, it can create a deep understanding of your family’s life. Things like your standard of living, your political affiliation, your health and welfare, how you treat your family, and major life events like deaths and divorces. Human intelligence is normally seen as inferior to artificial intelligence. It is in some ways, but it is more than sufficient to recognize the patterns of your life.

Pattern recognition

Humans have a “survival of the species” instinct for recognizing patterns and associating them with events, objects, and people Here are two examples. The first is a single person saving a major space mission, and the second one covers thousands of generations of humans recognizing patterns in the night skies:

The steely-eyed missile man

John Aaron was a NASA flight controller who recognized this pattern that he had seen only one time a year before Apollo 12 launched in 1969:

Apollo 12 telemetry

He was credited with saving the mission from aborting:

When Apollo 12 launched on November 14, 1969, Aaron was on shift. Thirty-six seconds after liftoff, the spacecraft was struck by lightning, causing a power surge. Instruments began to malfunction and telemetry data became garbled. The flight director, Gerry Griffin, expected that he would have to abort the mission. However, Aaron realized that he had previously seen this odd pattern of telemetry.

A year before the flight, Aaron had been observing a test at Kennedy Space Center when he had noticed some unusual telemetry readings. On his own initiative, he traced this anomaly back to the obscure Signal Conditioning Electronics (SCE) system, and became one of the few flight controllers who was familiar with the system and its operations. For the case that first drew his attention to the system, normal readings could be restored by putting the SCE on its auxiliary setting, which meant that it would operate even with low-voltage conditions.

Aaron surmised that this setting would also return the Apollo 12 telemetry to normal. When he made the recommendation to the Flight Director, “Flight, try SCE to Aux”, most of his mission control colleagues had no idea what he was talking about. Both the flight director and the CAPCOM Gerald P. Carr asked him to repeat the recommendation. Aaron repeated himself and Carr responded “What the hell’s that?” Yet he relayed the order to the crew: “Apollo 12, Houston. Try SCE to auxiliary.” Fortunately Alan Bean was familiar with the location of the SCE switch inside the capsule and flipped it to aux. Telemetry was immediately restored, allowing the mission to continue. This earned Aaron the lasting respect of his colleagues, who declared that he was a “steely-eyed missile man”. Here is a four minute video of what happened:

The steely-eyed missile man remembered an obscure pattern he saw a year previous. When human pattern recognition and association skills are applied to your home, the knowledge that can be obtained is significant.

Generations of pattern recognition and documentation

Another example of the exceptional pattern sensing capabilities of humans can be seen in ancient astronomy. There is a 26,000 year cycle of constellation movements around the earth called the precession of the equinoxes. It was first noted in text from the Greek Astronomer Ptolemy in the second century AD. Long before computers could model the movement of the stars, humans had recognized a movement pattern that spanned thousands of generations. Here is a three minute showing this precession:

Not only was the pattern recognized, but the alignment of the twelve Zodiac constellations was communicated through these generations. Even if you do not believe in astrology, we are talking about a time span of twenty six thousand years. That is 370 human lifespans of 70 years each. And this communication was initiated before the advent of written language. But even with a written language available, communication is not certain. All you have to do is go back in time just over 500 years and the English language is not recognizable in speech or print. The King James Bible is only 410 years old and contains thousands of words and expressions not in common use today. Try coming up with a language to communicate with people 10,000 years into the future. People are working on that problem right now.

The humans in these two examples are no different than your neighbors. When you let seemingly unconnected bits of information slip out of your home, patterns will be recognized and associated with events and situations. Most people reach conclusions based on these patterns and refer to them as a gut instinct, a hunch, or intuition. Where you will be next Saturday morning can be predicted with a high level of accuracy by a patient observer with the time and opportunity. The only missing element is motive. Your neighbor’s motive can be something as insignificant as avoiding boredom.

Good or bad?

Note that we are not classifying neighbors as good or bad. A more granular classification system will break down the risks versus rewards of our neighbors much more effectively:

  1. Friendly or contentious
  2. Predictable or unpredictable
  3. Observant or oblivious
  4. A good communicator or a poor listener
  5. Low stress and no drama or tense and exasperating
  6. Long time trusted neighbor or the unknown new kid on the block

Having history with a neighbor is the most effective predictor about how they will treat you in the future. The most dangerous person in your world is a close neighbor with nothing to lose. If they have life events like job losses or divorces that leave them without good choices, they can make a bad choice that impacts your home. This is especially true during social breakdown or when there is no rule of law. A person who loses their job and has to declare bankruptcy while going through a divorce does has a very narrow range of choices. If he lives next door, his proximity to your home and his present situation could expose your home to some severe consequences.

What you can do about it

Now we’ll look at how you can change the relationship you have with your neighbors. We want them to succeed and be safe and happy. Friendly neighbors who have made good life decisions are a buffer around your home. They are your allies when the dark side of human nature surfaces.

Being selective about containment

Information is hard to contain. It slips out of your home like heat through a window. But not all information leakage is detrimental. You can shape the narrative of your life that your neighbors see.

Location is the foundation

One of the most basic pieces of information about you is your location. Location data over time allows patterns to emerge that can predict your schedule. It can be difficult to conceal your presence at home. A vehicle in your driveway, smoke coming out of your chimney, steam coming out of a dryer vent, or a pet being let outside all let your neighbors know when you are home. When getting to know new neighbors, they should be given the opportunity to share their story before you share yours.

Neighbor peeking out of blinds

Establish an equitable amount of information exchange with your neighbors

Most businesses recognize that having a single customer purchase the majority of their products or services is a risk. That is why the percentage of production that each customer purchases is not ever disclosed to the customers. The red flag usually goes up when one customer purchases 20 percent of the business output. A manufacturer with a major customer who purchases a quarter of their total output can be manipulated by that customer for a better price and availability. There is also a risk of losing that one significant customer at the wrong time. Having a distributed customer base is a goal of successful businesses.

Your neighbors are the “customers” of the information that seeps out of your home. They pay for it by giving up their own information. This implies that there is a balance of information flow. If there is not a balance, then you need to adjust the amount, or the type of information you let out of your home. The red flag at 20% is a good rule. Ask yourself how much you know about your neighbors. Is it about the same as they know about you? It needs to be.

When establishing a balance of information coming and going from your home, you should craft the narrative you want your neighbors to consume by reducing the vulnerable information and increasing the protective information you give out.

Public information

If you own a home, your name and address are on file at the county courthouse. If you have a job serving the public such as a school teacher, your name and position is also publicly available. The license plate of your vehicle is constantly scanned by traffic cameras, tow trucks, and police cars. Commercial satellite imaging companies will let the world see an overhead view of your home and many homes are also featured on a street view. About the only place left where we have an expectation of privacy is inside our homes.

Vulnerable information

You cannot always hide your schedule, but you can reduce the information that ties everything together. Start with the basics like mail, packages, and your Wi-Fi signal.

Your mail and packages should pass from the carrier directly to your home. A neighbor who looks at every piece of mail you receive can know who your doctor is, where you bank, when your birthday is, what organizations you belong to, as well as having a good idea of your finances. Financial and medical correspondences are at the top of the list for securing your privacy.

An unsecured mailbox that your neighbors can open without being observed should be replaced with a PO Box or a steel locking parcel locker. At Amazon: CleverMade Parcel LockBox S100 Series: Secure Package Delivery Box

If a neighbor can see which router you are using, that is a first step to gaining access to your Wi-Fi network. It does not take long to set up a router with a unique name and secure password. Here is a five minute, easy to understand video showing exactly how to secure a router:

How to reinforce good neighbor behavior

Start by being a good neighbor yourself. It takes one to know one. Keep an eye on your neighbor’s interests without being nosy. Having a friendly conversation on a weekly basis with a neighbor will benefit both parties. You will probably be surprised how much information you learn about other people in your neighborhood. Remember that the neighborhood probably knows as much about you and your family. Humans have a base level survival instinct to monitor and evaluate other humans.

Start noticing your neighbors when they exhibit protective behaviors toward your neighborhood. And be sure to thank them. There is common ground when people share a fence line – even when they are on opposite sides. But boundaries must be set and enforced. How people approach your home is one of the most fundamental protocols you should establish. It should look something like this:

Everyone comes up your driveway and knocks on your front door. The path to getting your attention should be clear to first time visitors as well as your neighbors.

Have you ever visited a manufacturing plant (or a school)? You will see signs that say “visitor parking” and “all visitors must check in at the office.” They don’t want people just showing up at any place in their facility. The reasons for this policy is for security from theft and industrial espionage as well as liability protection. You should have the same concerns and have the same way of addressing them. Know who, when, and where people are on your property. Your home signage can be small and directed at package delivery drivers. This will help to funnel everyone (your neighbors) to the place that you choose to interact with them.

At Amazon: SmartSign “Leave All Deliveries & Packages Here” Diamond Plate Door Sign | 4″ x 5″ Aluminum

Sign for delivery drivers

Remember that you response time matters. Have a doorbell that you can hear throughout your home. Better yet, meet them at the door because your detection system alerted you to their presence when they stepped onto your property. An easy way to make this happen is an inexpensive driveway alarm system. They are not just for driveways anymore and their sensors can be deployed at most any likely avenue of approach. At Amazon: eMACROS Pairable 1/2 Mile Long Range Solar Wireless Driveway Alarm

Driveway alarm

The author’s experiences living in two very different neighborhoods

Here are a few situations that the author of this article, as a homeowner has dealt with. Note that almost all of them are “people problems” arising from poor decisions that my neighbors made:
  1. A fugitive in the neighborhood.
  2. A narcotics task force siege of a drug house directly across the road.
  3. A lying neighbor who sent a law enforcement officer to police my septic system (?).
  4. A drug addict screaming on the road that ended up in a neighbor’s bedroom and was arrested.
  5. An ambulance that could not make it up the road leaving an EMT that needed me to give him a ride up in heavy snow to get to a collapsed older gentleman.
  6. Two teenagers handcuffed together by a law enforcement officer that somehow climbed over a six foot (two meter) fence made of vertical rough cut planks. They left some blood on the fence and were tackled by the LEO in my backyard after he scaled the fence in pursuit.
  7. The threat of a major forest fire and imminent evacuation.
About half of these incidents were in a house in a tightly packed subdivision. I ended up being the neighborhood watch leader for the entire 700 homes because nobody else would do it. The other incidents were in a new home with several acres on a dead end dirt road with decent fencing and a quarter mile driveway. The second home with acreage and a view of the road and driveway was a much better position to hold. A good view of the likely avenues of approach and a locked gate do wonders for moral when the world goes sideways. The two links directly above go to: The ultimate wildfire shelter   Fortify your home, part 2

In these situations, there were certain neighbors that came in handy:

  1. The extrovert neighbor who knows everyone.
  2. The shut-in neighbor who sees everything.
  3. The neighbor who is awake at night. Shift workers and insomniacs are valuable resources.
  4. The neighbor with an anger problem that made him willing to confront juvenile delinquents. The local population of teenagers in the subdivision knew that juvenile laws had no teeth and law enforcement officers were not seen as a threat to their freedom. The only real consequence they understood is when a homeowner convinced them that he was willing to face prosecution for harming a minor in order to change their behavior. Cue the anger problem neighbor. He was very useful. No blood was shed, but the threat was taken seriously.
  5. The neighbor who owns heavy equipment. Always a plus to have someone close by who can pop stumps out of the ground or pull your tractor out of a mud hole.
  6. The neighbor who happens to be a state police patrolman. A police car in the driveway was a strong visual magnet that helped to keep the peace.

The most valuable neighbor is the extrovert who knows everyone in the neighborhood. They should be cultivated as a source of information and encouraged to keep open lines of communication with everyone.

The Takeaway

The greatest threat to humans is another human. We are constantly scanning our social environment for signs of danger. The most important place to explore your sense of community is where you live. Whether they know it or not, your neighbors are tripwires that will signal when bad events are headed your way. They are also allies that should be recruited to help you have a secure, peaceful neighborhood.

Next article: The Mindeset of a Predator At Amazon: Best Sellers in Safety and Security Full disclosure: as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The convenient links below will take you directly to the items on Amazon and help support this website. Thank you very much!