Many people have an idyllic view of what it’s like to live in a neighborhood. Ideas of block parties and neighborhood yard sales come to mind. Parents might never have to look far for a date-night babysitter because the family next door has a teenage daughter who is always willing to step in and earn a little money. Everyone knows everyone and nothing bad could ever happen.
However, the truth paints a different picture than the fantasy. More and more people don’t stay in a home for as long as they used to, many homes that used to be owner-occupied are now rentals, and a lot of the friendliness and sense of community has disappeared from the once traditional neighborhood.
So now that neighborhoods have a different structure how do you know who your neighbors are? When the rental and sales signs come down and new people move in how do you know that they’re people who can be trusted?
Keeping your family safe is your top priority and while no one ever expects something terrible to happen in their own backyard the truth is that it can, and does. These are a few ways you can learn more about the people around you and what to do if something just isn’t right.
Meet the Neighbors
In most cases your new neighbors are nice, friendly people who want nothing more than peace and quiet in their new neighborhood. One of the best ways to determine this is to meet them. Take the old-fashioned route and knock on their door with a plate of cookies or other treats in hand. Introduce yourself, wait to be invited in, and then have a brief chat.
You can learn a lot about someone in even the briefest of face to face meetings. Are they reluctant to invite you in? Do they seem annoyed that you even rang their doorbell? Are they nervous or less than friendly when you chat?
Not all people want to interact with their neighbors so none of those instances should be immediately taken as a red flag. However, a face-to-face meeting definitely gives you a place to start.
Taking the steps to perform a background search on someone who lives in your neighborhood might feel uncomfortable. It might feel as if you’re invading their privacy. It might even make you feel like a bad person for even questioning someone’s history. After all, aren’t we supposed to try and see the good in everyone?
However, if you’re suspicious to the point that you’re concerned for the safety of your family then a background check is perfect within your rights to carry out. A search on Google might not always be enough; too many people have similar names. A better way to achieve the results you want is do a name search on a website that specializes in backgrounds checks, and has access to all the records and info available in public records.
You’ll be able to find a lot more about a person when using one of those services. Items like education history, former addresses, job history, criminal history, and much more is available when using a detailed background check service. More often than not what you’ll find will be basic and average information, but if you do find something that you think needs to be addressed, such as a child abuse conviction or a requirement to be registered as a sex offender then you should take action.
What to Do
If your name search turns up something questionable the first thing to do is remain calm. Try to avoid sharing the information outside your immediate family; without concrete records it’s difficult to be certain that you have indeed found the right person.
Many websites offer up lists of registered sex offenders and their current addresses, but you should also get in touch with your local city council. They’re usually notified by law enforcement when a sex offender moves into the area and often hold local meetings to inform the public. Attend those meetings and ask questions. It could turn out that the mystery neighbor is not the one you need to be concerned about at all.
Keeping your family safe is your top priority and if it comes down to it doing a background check on your neighbor does not make you a bad person. It simply makes you a thorough one. And when you find that your new neighbor attended the same grade school as you did it could make for a great conversation starter at the next block party. Just try not to let them know how you have that information.