YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — It’s 10 o’clock; do you know what your local police are doing? If you’re attached to the military and living “out in town” in Japan, there’s a good chance you may not. Nor may you know about the crimes being committed in your neighborhood.

“Most of us are illiterate and unaware in our communities,” said Special Agent Matthew Parsons, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Far East. “Japanese police put out information on all kinds of things to the community on predators, traffic accidents, burglaries — but not in English.”

Enter “Neighbor 2 Neighbor,” or N2N — an NCIS experiment starting in the NCIS Far East office at Yokosuka Naval Base. Parsons and fellow NCIS investigator Isao Kondo are working with Kanagawa Prefecture’s 54 police departments to provide electronic news in English about crimes committed in areas in which status-of-forces-agreement personnel live.

“Japan is safer than the U.S. but over time, crime is increasing,” Kondo said. “Burglaries and child crimes, like abuse and kidnapping, have gone up a lot in the last year.”

That prompted many local communities to start watch programs and patrols, but Americans might not recognize the symbols or community watch cars, Kondo said. “You might just think it’s an ugly car with writing on it,” he said.

N2N works like this: NCIS sends explanatory letters to people by city, getting the addresses from Commander, Naval Forces Japan Housing.

Those interested can respond to an e-mail address and sign up for the voluntary service. They’ll receive e-mails from NCIS with the translated crime prevention news gleaned from Web sites, television and other media.

Police don’t disseminate information in several areas near base, including Yokosuka City, Parsons said. Of the 6,000 people who live off base, only about 2,000 live in areas getting the information. Of the 2,000, about 870 already have been sent letters, Kondo said.

It’s a start, Parsons added.

“We’re certain everyone will be doing this at some point … it’s a great idea. Everyone wins,” he said. “As we continue and stabilize the pilot, we expect it to spread to other bases.”

CNFJ Command Master Chief Lou Cruz said he considers the program a way to overcome communication gaps. “Most of our sailors and families face a huge language barrier when they move out here,” he said. “Even though crime overall is relatively low compared to our experiences back home, N2N is a way to bridge that gap.”

Did you know that …

There were five street robberies, 20 purse snatchings, 193 bike thefts, 40 motorcycle thefts and 32 burglaries in Yokohama from January to May of 2006.

There were four cases of battery and six home burglaries in Kamakura in May.

Hayama police reported 93 felony crimes between January and May.

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