A look at local neighborhood watch programs, in light of Zimmerman trial

Some neighborhood watch programs along the Grand Strand are more visible in the community than others.

One neighborhood watch program in Carolina Forest uses a flashing light and a magnetic sign to let people know they are coming.

"We don't want to remain anonymous and stealth. We want the neighborhood to know we are out there," said Scott Kavana, board member of the Homeowners Association.

Kavana used to be a part of the neighborhood watch in The Farm, which happens to be the largest one in Carolina Forest.

"You go slow enough that people have a chance to see you and recognize you. And it's a good reassurance for them," Kavana said.

However, neighborhood patrols and marked vehicles are not used in every community.

For example, in Myrtle Beach, neighborhood watch groups have monthly meetings to monitor what's going on.

"We talk about crime trends. We talk about people who are wanted in the neighborhoods, and they will call," said Lt. Pete Woods of the Myrtle Beach Police Department.

However, one thing remains the same across community lines. They urge you to call, not confront.

"The real key is non-confrontational. We do not confront people when we see them. If it's serious enough, we encourage all of our members to use their cell phone," said Kavana.

"Basically we stress everywhere, please call, please call. You don't take action. All you need to do is call us, and the police car will be there," Woods said.

Woods adds that neighborhoods with active neighborhood watch programs tend to have lower crime rates.

National Night Out will be held on August 6. It's an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities in communities across the country.