Residents of SS14 in Subang Jaya can feel safer knowing that their neighbourhood watch team – dubbed the Voluntary Patrolling Team or Skim Rondaan Sukarela (SRS) – have their eyes on the ground, watching for suspicious goings-on in their neighbourhood.
The SRS was formed about two years ago under the SS14 Rukun Tetangga (RT).
“Usually, if we see anything suspicious, we’ll call the police, provide them with the necessary details and they’ll send someone over to check,” says RT chairman Teoh Teik Hoong, 48.
The residents canvas the neighbourhood either on foot, bicycles or in cars. They hope their presence will deter criminals from targeting their homes.
The SRS volunteers have on their reflective vests as they patrol the neighbourhood every night.
The patrollers are rostered for duty once a week, but quite a few opt to patrol a few times a week.
“I see it as a contribution to my community. My family and I live here. I want to do my part and make sure everybody is safe,” says property manager Sukhdew Singh.
As his work schedule is flexible, the 51-year-old commits to patrolling the neighbourhood in the wee hours of the morning.
Whether it’s people drinking alcohol in the neighbourhood field, couples behaving inappropriately in cars or vehicles roaming the streets suspiciously, the patrollers keep each other updated via a WhatsApp chat group and bring any suspicious activity to the police’s attention. Even when they’re not on duty, patrolling has honed these residents’ instincts and they are overall more vigilant.
“They are the eyes and ears of the police,” says assistant officer in charge of Subang Jaya police station, SI Roslin Salleh, who joins the residents’ patrol.
Their efforts have paid off for there has been about a 20% drop in crime rates in Subang Jaya today, compared to a year ago.
DSP Tan Nam Seng, who is the crime prevention and community safety department head in the Subang Jaya police headquarter, says the police and the people must work together, reporting any suspicious activity immediately, adding the SS14 RT is one of the most active ones around.
“There are more and more housing developments now, which means our (surveillance) area is getting bigger. So, we need the help and cooperation of the RTs.”
Besides making the neighbourhood a safer place, the patrols have helped foster a stronger bond within the SS14 community.
“Many of us are working and we hardly meet our neighbours. So when we do our rounds, we meet people and get to know them. That’s how I finally got to know who my neighbour was,” says 70-year-old doctor Mahadevan Thambirajah.
Often, after the patrollers have gone on their rounds, a few will linger and gather at the RT cabin, a communal space used for meetings. With plastic chairs and tables laid out and pots of tea brewed, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
Teoh’s 20-year-old son Tien Shern also joins the neighbourhood patrols.
“When I was in Form Three, my dad took me to community events and got me to talk to our neighbours. It really helped me build my confidence,” shares the university student who encourages other youths to play an active role in their community.