By Walt Hunter

LOWER MERION Twp., Pa., (CBS) — Lower Merion police are hoping pet owners, walking their dogs, will help them collar criminals.

“Dog Walker Watch” a joint program just launched by police, and Community Watch President Matt Peskin, is recruiting dog walkers to help report suspicious, criminal activities in their neighborhoods.

Sgt. Peter Sharpe points out that dog walkers are out on the streets around the clock, in every neighborhood, in every type of weather, providing a new resource to inform police of possible crimes.

“It’s like a force multiplier, you are adding so many more people out to report what they see on a daily basis,” Sgt. Sharpe said.

Peskin says the program, which he says is the first of its type, has already gotten dozens of volunteers on-line in just the first few days.

Sgt. Sharpe points out that, unlike marked patrol cars and even town watch volunteers, dog-walkers simply blend in, meaning they are a perfect “undercover” force to keep watch.

“We’re out at all times of the day, and even I look at cars that are driving down our streets at 11 o’clock at night,” dog walker Stacey Crognale said.

‘You’ve increased the number of trained eyes and ears that are out there, maybe 50, 60, 80 people,” Peskin said.

Local dog owners greeted the program with enthusiasm, glad to be helping neighbors as they cared for their dogs.

The first hour-long training session will be at the Ardmore firehouse, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. Volunteers, and their pets, will get tips on what to watch for and how to contact police.

Peskin adds a 2nd session, set for April, is almost filled and he is planning a 3rd training meeting.

And Sgt. Sharpe says he has already received inquiries from other communities and police departments about starting a similar program.

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