TOWN OF BRISTOL, Wis. -

Preventing crimes is the top priority for residents in the town of Bristol, where more people are looking to take matters into their own hands.

Bristol is home to about 4,000 people and is located just past Sun Prairie, near the Dane and Columbia county border. Many citizens tell News 3 they feel it’s a safe community, but there is more they can do to help.

“When seconds count, the police are only minutes away," said Fred Stohl, who is not a cop but wants to keep his community safe.

"Police can only be at one place at a time, one person one place at a time," Stohl said.

Dane County Deputy Sheriff John Nelson said, "By starting these community watch programs we are telling these communities we can't be everywhere all the time, so you can be the eyes and ears for us.”

Nelson is in charge of Dane County’s Northeast precinct and said rural communities don't have the type of crime you see in downtown Madison, but they do have a big issue with property theft.

"Generally what we are seeing is that a lot of these people work in Madison or other areas, so they are gone during the day and it's made their homes a little easier targets because of the rural area -- not as many neighbors around," Nelson said.

The hope is to start a neighborhood watch where people report suspicious activity through a phone tree. It is a five-step process and Wednesday's meeting got the ball rolling.

"We are not wanting people to think Dane County is not a safe place, that is not the purpose of this, but there is always more that people can do," Nelson said.

"We are the eyes and the ears of the neighborhood," Stohl said.

Neighborhood Watch is run by a national organization and will start when the group is prepared. The Dane County Sheriff's Office is the primary jurisdiction and will oversee the Bristol Neighborhood Watch.