PEMCO Poll finds residents can do more to prevent neighborhood crime

National Night Out encourages residents to meet neighbors, exchange information



​​SEATTLE – In an age where most can count their online acquaintances by the hundreds, a recent poll from PEMCO Insurance shows that few Northwest residents know the person who lives nearby.

According to the latest PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, 41 percent say they have contact information for less than one-quarter of people who live in their neighborhood, and two-thirds of drivers in Washington and Oregon have personally met fewer than half of their neighbors. 

The new data comes out as neighborhoods across the country celebrate National Night Out, a nationally organized block party held in local communities to promote neighborhood safety and heighten crime-prevention awareness. 

“Programs like National Night Out offer a great chance to meet the people you’ve seen around your neighborhood but haven’t met,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. “Knowing your neighbors, building trust with them, and sharing basic information like your phone number and the dates you leave town can help build a neighborhood safety shield that deters crime.”

National Night Out is celebrated nationally with block parties, cookouts, and other outdoor neighborhood events throughout the first week in August. Seattle alone registered 1,327 events last year, and Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement lists nearly 160 registered gatherings across the city over a 10-day span in 2012. 

But despite the community enthusiasm for National Night Out, PEMCO’s poll finds just 12 percent of Washington residents and 13 percent of Portlanders say they’ve ever participated in a National Night Out event.  Beyond the annual event, two-thirds or more of respondents are unaware of coordinated efforts to prevent crime, like a neighborhood block watch – 71 percent of Portlanders and 66 percent of Washington residents, respectively. 

And yet, according to the poll, 51 percent of all respondents in the Northwest share at least some concern for the safety of their neighborhoods.

PEMCO’s poll found that people age 55 or older and those who own their homes are more likely to take some of the steps to ensure neighborhood safety.  About twice as many homeowners say they’ve met at least half of their neighbors, compared to their renter counterparts – 42 percent of owners versus 23 percent of renters.  Similarly, older residents are about a third more likely than younger residents to usually or always let their neighbors know when they plan to be on vacation.

“We know many residents are already vigilant about preventing crime and ensuring neighborhood safety.  Block watches are one way to go beyond solo efforts, to join with your neighbors and make anti-crime measures more visible,” Osterberg added. 

The Seattle Police Department suggests how citizens can make their neighborhoods safer.  According to SPD, reducing crime and violence can be as simple as organizing a walking group to be a visible presence in your neighborhood, or being watchful and reporting suspicious activity to 911, no matter how trivial it might seem.

For neighborhoods without an existing block watch, the Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention team suggests:

  • Bring together willing participants.
  • Agree on a simple plan of action and goals for the block watch.
  • Determine participants' roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop a working email distribution, phone tree, and neighborhood map.
  • Take action – report suspicious activity and changes in surrounding environment to local law enforcement.

To find a National Night Out event happening in your neighborhood, or to organize your own, visit

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to take an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in April 2012.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll
PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon drivers several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 629 respondents in Washington and 400 respondents in the Portland, Ore., metro area, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.0 percent and +/- 5.0 percent respectively at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the region and through PEMCO offices. For more information, visit