SURREY -- The City of Surrey says it's seeing a surge of interest in its Block Watch program as more people stay home during the pandemic.

About a dozen new block watch captains and co-captains – who could preside over hundreds of volunteers – have signed up to look out for potential crime in their neighbourhoods, said Susan Stickley, Surrey's community programs manager.

"There's been a lot more interest, people reaching out and contacting us and even within our current block watch groups, we're seeing an increase in communications and people reaching out and contacting their neighbours," Stickley said.

Usually, the new captains would be trained in person, Stickley said, but many of the meetings are now taking place over video chat apps such as Zoom.

Block Watch is a community program that has been operating in the province since 1986. It's designed so neighbours can train themselves with crime prevention techniques. It also helps neighbours get to know each other in order to spot strange activities.

Surrey Mounties say while commercial break-and-enters increased during the pandemic, residential break-and-enters dropped.

"Having hundreds of eyes on the streets keeping watch for suspicious activity and suspicious people certainly contributes to driving down residential property crime," said Surrey RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Elenore Sturko.