A neighborhood watch (also called a crime watch or neighborhood crime watch) is a organized group of citizens devoted to crime and vandalism prevention within a neighborhood. It builds on the concept of a town watch from Colonial America.
Neighborhood watches are not vigilante organizations. When suspecting criminal activities, members are encouraged not to intervene but to contact authorities.
The current American system of neighborhood watches began developing in the late 1960s as a response to the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York. People became outraged after reports that a dozen witnesses did nothing to save Genovese or to apprehend her killer. Some locals formed groups to watch over their neighborhoods and to look out for any suspicious activity in their areas. Shortly thereafter, the National Sheriffs' Association began a concerted effort in 1972 to revitalize the "watch group" effort nationwide